What drives knowledge and learning?

I was so fortunate to attend Vancouver’s Maker Faire on June 6, 2015 and what an inspiration it was! Walking into this well-organized event I was instantly enthused by the vibe. People were happy, conversation was abundant, and making connections came naturally. I certainly wasn’t a networking event! I witnessed in a short time the sharing of knowledge, gained quick access to information, and resources were plenty. Little energy was spent at the Maker Faire on selling, rather the showcase of innovation rose to the forefront and everyone was willing to share their knowledge, all you had to do was ask a question to spark the Maker ethos.

This experience got me thinking about knowledge and how it is created, developed, and disseminated. Let me narrow this blog by talking about the development piece. Knowledge appears to fall into some readily identifiable categories such as 1. wanting knowledge, 2. needing knowledge, and 3. having knowledge.

Testing myself on these categories and watching them play out at the Maker Fair, it appeared that my “need of knowledge” (due to a lack of knowing something specific) drove my “want to know,” and lucky for me,  in this Maker Space, there was an abundance of those who “had the knowledge” I wanted. Does the “want for knowledge” appear to be the most significant factor? And what might this say for educators?

The typical type of knowledge disseminated in the classroom comes in a declarative form, which is largely facts and the theoretical background. If learners are lucky, we can get some hands on experience with the declarative knowledge through procedural knowing via experiences and hands-on-activity. It could be suggested that the experience with something much drive the “need to know” and as such, is integral to learning.

But what’s different about experiencing something through learning-by-doing as described above and experiencing something through Making? I think it’s the “want to know” piece. In traditional classrooms, the “need to know” experience is created by the educator, but may not be as authentic as the “want to know” I experienced in the Maker Space. Would you agree?

Why is this important? I think it’s because the learner’s desire and want for knowledge creates an enthusiasm for deep learning. This then determines what they need to know subsequently allowing the learner to seek the knowledge from those (perhaps experts) who have it.  We can deduce that the Maker Space supports the type of learning environment that educators might aspire to create for the acquisition of knowledge.