Situating Makerspaces in Schools

Makerspaces don’t fit our traditional expectations of school, but here they come. The emergence of makerspaces in schools is in part due to the fact that they have been riding the wave of popular momentum behind STEAM. But this partnership between STEAM programs and makerspaces is limiting. The ecologies of STEAM and the ecologies of making overlap — but they are not the same thing. STEAM is about blurring the lines between disciplinary content; making in schools is about a learner-directed, hands-on approach to learning and knowing.

A very nice piece worth your time. I couldn’t have said it better myself.  In fact, I couldn’t have said it as well!

Source: Situating Makerspaces in Schools

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Common Core ≠ Globally Competitive Studens?

Today I read Chapter 1 of Yong Zhao’s book, World Class Learners: Educating creative and entrepreneurial students.  Found it fascinating, especially as I’m currently immersed in the ELA standards for Social Studies and History in preparation for a talk on “Digital Archives in Support of Common Core State Standards.”

Dr Zhao asserts that homogenized curriculum/common standards will not produce globally competitive citizens.  Why? The standards movement assumes the old educational paradigm, designed to train people for local jobs and instill local social and cultural norms, but globalization and technology have changed the rules of the game.

  1. Given two people with equal skills, the one willing to work for less money will get the job.
  2. We don’t know what the jobs of the future will be.
  3. Jobs that can be automated will be; routine work will be sent to countries where labor costs are least.
  4. The world our children live in is global; nothing in the common core prepares them to work with or even get along with people in other parts of the world.
  5. Globalization and technology offer great opportunities; these will be greatest for individuals who do NOT fit the mold, who can add value that no one else can (e.g.  Pink’s design, story, symphony, empathy, etc.).

There seems to be an assumption among those who support the common core state standards that if we in the United States adopt common standards that are internationally bench-marked, and we are successful in teaching all students to reach these standards, that somehow that will make us globally competitive.  Why?  Do we think we will succeed where the countries against whom we benchmark will not?  Are we going to teach this common core better than anyone else, so the quality of or graduate’s work will be so superior they will get the job and at a higher pay?  At the very best, the success of common core might level the international playing field, but a level field does not win us the game.  The skills and tricks that would do that reside in all those other disciplines, talents, and skills that common core not only does not address but, given the curriculum narrowing Dr. Zhao describes, get squeezed out.  Not a pretty picture.