By Wayne Brock, LLA Maker Class Teacher
What happens when a veteran Maker teacher uses Techshop to reconsider the future of education?
Luckily for me, Life Learning Academy has decided to find out.
Over the next year, I will be working once a week at Techshop to challenge myself to try new ways to teach, update my skills, and create new ways to engage students with maker projects. This is the first in a series of monthly posts I will share about my experience there.
Why did I campaign for dedicated time at Techshop? I have always thought of myself as a professional learner instead of a teacher. By keeping sharp my own ability to learn and create, I become better at transmitting the skills and techniques of becoming a learner and a maker on to my students. When I pitched the idea, our team knew that it would benefit the students to have me (and soon them!) immersed in the culture of technology, design, and DIY spirit that I’ve built in my own Maker classroom. For my teaching, there’s no better professional development that experimenting with the tasks and ideas directly.
This week, I’m exploring ways to make students’ analog ideas transform into digital renderings, and back again to physical products. I’m thinking about how to best have students use digital tools in their making. I am trying to find the best way to make sure that the students are driving the technology.
Every time I return to my Maker Class after a Techshop day, I can better visualize how a student could use the tools that exist in a sophisticated ‘makerspace’. Makerspaces like Techshop are appearing in more and more communities, and the more I can remove the intimidation factor for students in using these tools, the more empowered they become to access and control these technologies on their own in their future. Beyond the makerspace, the creative and critical thinking skills this work requires will enable them to tackle life challenges of all kinds.
In a world where change is the norm, the ability to learn, adapt, problem solve, and innovate are essential — for educators as well as students. At our school, we believe that creating an educational experience that prepares students for this future requires teachers to themselves learn, adapt, problem solve, and create. When teachers have the time and space to engage in their own curiosities, their motivation soars, and that energy radiates through their classroom activities. I can’t wait to bring what I’m learning here into my LLA classroom, and to generate prototypes there that we can one day refine at Techshop.
My ideal is to create a learning space where the student is no longer limited by what the teacher “knows,” but is engaged as a participant in discovering what they can learn together as a team of inquisitive learners.
By year’s end, colleagues and friends will ask me “What did you make at Techshop?” I hope I can say, with confidence, “the future of education.”
Wayne Brock has led student exploration in Maker Class, Chemistry, Integrated Science at LLA since 2000. The former aerospace engineer grew up on an Indiana farm, and recently received the Voya Unsung Heroes award for his dedication to excellent and innovative teaching.