Over the last 30 years the world has undergone tremendous change. In India we had just 1 TV channel in 1980s and today we have an almost unlimited supply of video content. We spend 13 years of our life in school. Not much has changed in most schools from 1980s. My son is studying in the same school in which I had studied and only a little bit has changed from my time to his time.
I think the days of plain vanilla school are numbered. Huge changes in school system are inevitable. Some people feel that augmenting school with videos is the answer. Videos do help in visually showing the concepts but they are not a game changer. After some time they start becoming boring for the kids.
The real problem is that in a fast changing world a fixed curriculum becomes a liability instead of an asset for the education system. The problems faced by kids in their daily life have at many times no correlation with what they learn in school. We need to make the curriculum and the problems which the kids face in daily life align with each other.
All kids want to play with toys. Some kids even want to make their own toys. Making toys can be an activity which can really motivate a kid to learn a lot of stuff. I have seen kids learn a lot of difficult concepts easily at my makerspace.
In the age of internet most knowledge workers need to complete tasks online. Our curriculum generally focuses a lot on writing by hand. Writing by hand is an essential skill and needs to be taught. The only issue is that as an adult I seldom write more than a few words at a time on paper. Most of what I write is on computer or the phone. Activities involving programming help students to think in front of the computer.
The problem which I face daily is what to write? The focus in schools should primarily be on teaching communication. Most people who have studied a language for more than 10 years are expected to be able to communicate using that language in a fluent way. Unfortunately most people find it difficult to communicate concisely and clearly. Describing projects in makerspace really helps in this goal.
The schools of the present day rely a lot on teachers for discipline. Many adults believe that kids are naughty. They believe that if their is no teacher in the classroom than the kids will just waste time. My experience in our makerspace has been quite the opposite. Kids are restless not naughty. They just need a medium to channelise their energy. Some of the most restless kids have become well behaved kids at my makerspace. Restless kids get a match for them in form of electronics and robotics projects. As per psychology these kids get into the state of ‘Flow’. They forget everything else and just focus on building their toy project.
Maker projects are more adaptable to change than the traditional curriculum which is full of lectures and writing exercises. Thus makerspace makes the student learn more due to better motivation and more opportunities for communication.