The case for formalizing free exploration opportunities
Don't worry, I'll be back on the blog with updates on my current project but today I wanted to draw attention to the work that our education, sales and marketing folks have been doing to demystify "maker" culture for educators.
I don't have a formal education in electrical engineering (a fact many of you find painfully obvious). In fact, much of my educational background is unconventional. I attended public schools but was able to pursue a wide range of elective subjects, often arguing with counselors and rearranging my schedule to take on less conventional combinations. I wasn't an "advanced placement" student, or even a particularly good academic-level student. I was training to fly planes in high school and my most effective studying took place in a Beechcraft C23 Sundowner which, for a person who didn't have a driver's license, was a thorough distraction from academia. But, access to classes such as metal shop, musical theater, painting and technology (and, most crucially, the combination thereof) helped me develop a skill set that eventually defined my professional life.
Often, the difference between these elective classes and my core curriculum was more than just subject matter. Elective classes, not beholden to any rigid standards, tended to allow much more free exploration. This free exploration time was huge during that time when I was trying to decide what I wanted to do with my life. Unfortunately, a lot of my free exploration was not officially sanctioned. I made deals with teachers, skipped classes and generally played cat and mouse with the administration. For a teenager like myself, that came naturally, but I knew a lot of people who didn't want to scheme their way around campus. That's why it's so important to formalize free exploration in school, and the most effective tool for doing that in a way that supports the core curriculum is with a makerspace. If you're having trouble getting started, check out our white paper on the subject!
What was your experience like in school? Did you take shop classes? Did your theater teachers let you skip class to build sets? Does your school have a makerspace or some other type of lab for free exploration? I want to know how things have changed, both before my entry into the educational system and after my graduation! Let's discuss!