We have had a great week in London attending one of the worlds largest education events the BETT show. Four days of talks, seminars, and browsing hundreds of exhibitors all with an education theme.
One of the questions that keeps propping up at the event is “how effective are schools really in developing life long learning, problem solving, and creativity?”. According to NESTA (UK), these are going to be some of the most desired skills by employers in the future. But more importantly, it’s what is going to be most useful to a child as they develop and become increasingly independent and part of this world.
I have a number of engineering degrees, which was great for gaining the knowledge I needed but the greatest skill I developed was the ability to learn new things, and quickly. A skill like that is empowering, giving you the confidence to give new things a try, to experiment, take risks, and reap the rewards from it all. And this is what making is all about.
If you see a problem in the world, you have a couple of options.
1. Not do a thing about it. Leave it and hope for someone else to solve it.
2. Go a little further and think of a possible solution, but leave it in your head.
3. Go even further and turn that idea you have into something real, test it, improve it, and share your story.
You probably dont need me to go through why option 3 is the way to go, but this hasn’t always been so easy. Until now. With massive resources like the internet democratizing the access of information and the availability of technologies such as low cost microcontrollers, 3D printers, and open source hardware/software, some pretty big hurdles have been oversome (but still leaving some smaller ones!) It is now possible to purchase a £20 BBC micro:bit, use free software to code it, and develop a smart device to solve a problem you have identified. What an exciting time we live in!
This process of making, creating, and innovating is going to (hopefully) play a larger role in our global education system, replacing some (not all) of the lecture style classrooms. Curiosity is abundant in children, and we need to develop and nurture it through school. Not destroy it like we have been doing.