Populations, communities, and practices typically share an “ethos” which characterizes their guiding beliefs around activities of interest. In Maker communities the ethos is grounded in attitudes, skills, knowledge, commitment, and competencies that allow people with similar interests to “hack, adapt, design, [and] create” (Bullock, 2014) artifacts (stay tuned to read more about “What we mean by artifacts”). Maker communities involve collaboration amongst members within the do-it-yourself culture and are driven by affinity-to and curiosity-towards the activity at hand. The spaces that Makers create are often micro-communities with self-guiding standards, such as being creative, sharing knowledge and skills, problem-solving, togetherness, mentoring others, and making excellent mistakes while feeling safe to do so. These Maker Spaces can been seen in coordinated ventures such as Tech Shops, in labs, or can pop-up in someone’s garage. Making can happen anywhere, but the really interesting part is watching it unfold. What can we learn from the Maker Ethos that might be relevant to pedagogy?
Having the privilege of witnessing Maker Spaces, a couple of guiding beliefs appear to be at the core of the Maker Ethos. These drivers seem to be sharing, learning, exchanging, and gusto! Maker community interactions are a powerful thing and what’s evident in this ethos which I feel makes it distinct from, for example a collaborative group or team, is the inherent tendency to focus on the process of Making. This focal point of process in my opinion circumvents the innate drive towards a focus solely on finished projects and outcomes, which often seem to drive most team-based work. In Maker Spaces, competition appears to be deflected and the Maker Ethos shines through. Then the innovation can happen.
The Maker Ethos opens some new doors for pedagogy. The guiding beliefs can play out in profound way such as:
- Allowing learners to gather around a task/ challenge/ problem of interests to create gusto. This is associated with motivation and happiness towards the completion of projects/ outcomes.
- Fostering commitment to the solving of difficult problems by leveraging the Maker Community as a resource for the exchange of knowledge and skills.
- Focusing on the creative and inspiring aspects of the learning and sharing process throughout the completion of projects/ outcomes to advance collective knowledge.
Educators can create opportunities in the classroom for students to learn by doing through working on authentic projects that are personally meaningful and globally valuable. The creation and design that learners bring to real problem can foster innovation in a relevant and momentous manner.