Two weeks ago, we took down all the Christmas stuff in our house. This weekend I finally finished putting all the bins, bundles and boxes into their respective closets and crawl spaces. As I was hunched over feeling my age it occurred to me that a huge part of our collected Christmas is homemade by family, or kid made at school or handmade and bought while traveling.
It should be noted that this is in no way a mark of quality, especially regarding that second category.
The reason that we puzzle together storage space every year for these personally designed popsicle pine trees and macaroni snowmen is that the simple act of building elicited a sense of ownership and individual connection. The artifact becomes a marker of the maker.
Even on a subconscious level, on topics that are not important or real, the idea that something was crafted with individual intent adds value. Making is an individual effort that humans admire.
The importance and the power of making are quickly building its way back into prominence in education. It is an integral part of personalization and project-based learning. But more importantly, the impact of maker based learning works because making adds meaning.
Looking beyond the sentimental value, past the inherently personalized learning that making adds to classroom work, there is great research to support these ideas. Harvard’s Project Zero, MIT’s Lifelong Kindergarten, and Stanford’s D-School have all dug into the Maker education and are pushing it with real enthusiasm.
If you still need the kind of evidence that only happens in your own classroom just wait a couple weeks. By then your students will be prepping for Valentine’s day. After the dust settles, look at the pile valentines on your desk. Which ones hold the most value for you?