Friday, 22 August 2014

On cardboard boxes, whatchamacallits and education - Why do we need to embrace the Maker culture?

What education needs is a good old whatchamacallit. Not the temporary workaround patching type, but the mechanism that emanates creativity and ingenuity, the contraption that promotes remixing, repurposing, divergent thinking and vision.

What education needs is to embrace ingenuity and never let it go. We are all born craftsmen, and from an early age we are ready to dream up the next great invention. We turn pillowcases into invisibility capes and cardboard boxes into treasure chests, rockets, boats and closets.

But spend a few years in an educational institution that does not understand the power of play and creativity (you have heard of places like that, haven’t you?) and you end up losing faith in imagination. The problem is that with that, we also lose our ability to invent, reinvent and think like scientists-the type that enjoys questioning everything and always asks: what if?

But education is not all about pillowcases and boxes, right? What about standards and tests, and the curriculum? How can we explain all this to parents, governments, students and also to the general public?

It's simple! The Maker culture carries some pillars that can be taken for life: agile and distributed processes, openness to new experiences, sharing and the acceptance of failure as a path to success. Indeed, if our leaders were to adopt the last pillar, we would have a much better world!

Failing is good, especially if we fail early and fail cheap. Can you imagine the amount of money we could save?
Encouraging the Maker culture means to encourage imagination, thinking, organizational skills, and, of course, learning by doing and play. We need more content producers, more solutions to our problems. We need sharp minds!

So this is what I urge you to do: get to know a bit more about the Maker culture, create collaborative spaces in your schools, communities and companies. Invite everyone to get their hands dirty, to tinker and play.

Celebrate your imagination… and if your pillowcase no longer fits you as a cape… don’t you worry ... we can always invent new fabric, a new hero and a new way to make the world happen. Now tell me, what would you do if I gave you a cardboard box?

If you want to know a bit more about the Maker culture and cardboard boxes, check these two links: The Global Cardboard Challenge Maker Faire

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