12700 OL: The Maker Movement: Taking Back the Power in the Classroom
Organizer: Sylvia Martinez
Educators in formal or informal learning spaces, youth, parents, and education leaders.
About the Workshop:
People may not think of the Maker Movement or making in the classroom as a political stance, but they both are. Politics isn’t only about who gets elected, or the day to day “action” on Capitol Hill, it’s a negotiation of power in any relationship – who has it, who can use it, and over how many other people. The Maker Movement is about sharing ideas and access to solutions with the world, not for money or power, but to make the world a better place. It’s about trusting other people, people you don’t know, to use these ideas for good. Making in the classroom is also about power and trust, and perhaps in an even more important way, because it’s about transferring power to the learner, our students, who are the ones who will take over the world in the not too distant future. And in giving the learner agency and responsibility over their own learning, they gain trust, not just our trust, but trust in themselves as powerful problem-solvers and agents of change.
It is a political statement to work to empower people, just as it is a political statement to work to disempower people. That holds true for all people, not just young people. Being a helpless pawn in a game controlled by others is disempowering, whether you are a teacher, student, parent, or citizen of the world. Deciding that you trust another person enough to share power, or even more radical, give them agency over decisions, is indeed political.
Making is not only a stance towards taking that power back, as individuals and as a community, but also trusting ourselves and each other to share that power to create, learn, grow, and solve problems. Empowering students is an act of showing trust by transferring power and agency to the learner. Helping young people learn how to handle the responsibility that goes along with this power is the sensible way to do it. Inspiring them with modern tools and modern knowledge needed to solve real problems is part of this job. For education to change, it can’t just be tweaks to policy, or speeches, or buying the new new thing — teachers have to know how to empower learners every day in every classroom. There is no chance of having empowered students without empowered teachers — competent, professional, caring teachers who are supported in this goal by their community.
This workshop would focus on what participants can do in their own situations to take back the power of learning and create classrooms where teachers and students are empowered and acknowledged as the agents of change, not objects of change.