“Writing matters!” Maybe you have heard this from an English teacher in school, a parent at home lecturing you to write an essay, or a friend that you would consider a part of the “grammar police”. Many of us think, but why? Why does writing matter? Writing is not just a scholarly activity used only in school or literature; it is visible in different forms of communication including text messages, emails, Facebook, and even Twitter.
After the last few weeks I have a newfound love for language. Just one tweet can make all the difference. Last week, I was assigned to do some reading on the topic of maker faires, something I had no prior knowledge about. I could choose any informational articles that I wanted. One article from Time Magazine described the Maker Movement and mentioned a maker magazine. After discovering this I tweeted out directing my tweet at Make Magazine. I didn’t think it was a big deal until it was liked by one of the editors of the magazine, Mike Senese. I tweeted out again at Mike and Make Magazine, shocked that he had seen it. He then replied to my tweet. Fast forward a few days and I find myself emailing Mike about setting up a Skype chat with the rest of my classmates. Crazy!
In preparation for our talk with Mike, my classmates, instructors, and I brainstormed a list of questions to ask. We kept in mind that time was limited and we wanted to ask valuable questions. We thought it would be helpful to ask about Maker Faires and other specific questions relating to the Maker Movement. We didn’t want to ask something where you could find the answer online.
Skyping Mike was a great learning experience for all of us. We went back and forth asking questions, explaining our Maker Faire, and having a great conversation. He was very supportive of our ideas and complimented what we were doing in our studies. It was awesome to hear his passion for the Maker Movement and his beliefs that echoed what we had been reading about.
Some important ideas I took away from our Skype session with Mike:
- Making, in general, is something that everyone can be involved with.
- Encourage kids to make things and break things. If you don’t break what you make then you’re not pushing yourself to the limit to fix it!
- Allow students to find their talents, it makes an impact.
- Promote Maker Faires to come into schools.
Mike mentioned that everyone can be involved with making and should be. This parallels with Warren Berger’s ideas in A More Beautiful Question. “In a sense, we’re all ‘makers’ now, or, at least, we would do well to think of ourselves that way. Whether or not we were ever properly taught how to question, we can develop the skill now, on our own, in our own spaces” (Berger 2014). As a cohort of educators, we find these words especially empowering because questioning is something we can encourage and practice in our classrooms. Questioning and making are skills that can be practiced and go hand in hand.
When Mike was talking about breaking and making, I made another connection to Berger’s words. Berger describes how one inventor, Van Phillips, was designing a better prosthetic foot. Phillips’ prototypes kept failing and Phillips had to ask himself, “Why did it break? What if I change the mix of materials? How will this new version hold up?” (Berger, 2014). This is exactly the mindset that Mike wanted us to take away from our talk with him. It is valuable for our students to hypothesize, test their ideas, and then revise their work. Test, re-test, make, break, re-make, re-break, are processes our students need to practice. They have freedom to wonder, discover, and are actively engaged in this type of learning environment. Creativity and mistakes are encouraged.
One more positive impact this experience had on me is expanding my professional learning network. “Educators have to reexamine their own learning practice and move toward becoming more networked and connected themselves” (Daly, 2012). This can be through online collaboration and networking or in person. I never thought that I would be connecting with magazine editors or hosts of TV shows in my time as an educator. I am happy to have Mike as a connection to the “maker world” moving forward. Writing does matter.
Berger, W. (2014). A More Beautiful Question: The power of inquiry to spark breakthrough ideas. New York, NY: Bloomsbury.
Daly, J. (2012, September 14). Why School? TED ebook author rethinks education when information is everywhere. Retrieved June 21, 2016, from http://blog.ted.com/why-school-ted-ebook-author-rethinks-education-when-information-is-everywhere/