One thing I do often of as a theology teacher at a Catholic school is think about analogies and symbols. In my faith tradition, God communicates himself us is through symbol, and we understand God by analogy to created things. We make meaning by employing analogy and symbol. So, when I thought about how to express the new thinking I’ve experienced in CEP 811 by learning about making, I wanted to try to integrate it with my other experience of making.
The image that I chose to express the how MakerEd has influence my thinking is a well. I think this image communicates a lot of what I’ve learned about MakerEd. To begin with, wells are an example of the real-world problem solving and innovation at the heart of making. A community needs water; they dig a well. The construction of wells varies; people innovate according to the materials available, which also parallels to the experience of making. Further, wells are important because access to clean water is essential to the life of a community; among other reasons, living things need access to water in order to live and grow. Learning about MakerEd has infused new life in to my education praxis; it has helped me to grow as an educator by giving me a new set of tools for engaging students in meaningful learning. Finally, in the biblical world, wells served as a gathering place for the community or tribe. Making has introduced me to new communities of people, both educator-makers and maker-educators, who gather around their common interest to learn and share their knowledge.
Although I’m still relatively new to the MakerEd “well”, what I’ve learned has already begun to influence my practice as an educator. I thought about the SketchUp/student-centered design assignment when arranging my classroom earlier this week; even though I had to compromise on the arrangement because I share a room with other teachers, I am now aware that the classroom arrangement communicates values, which is easier to dialogue about with a colleague rather than negotiating preferences. I have also noticed a change in my mindset about working with students and technology, whether in the theater or the classroom. I see technology as giving student and teacher an opportunity to work together to solve a problem, rather than something I need to master before I can teach it to others. In this way, I think that making also has the potential to transform not only student learning but also the teacher-student relationship, making it more collaborative. Finally, learning about MakerEd has helped me to plan for more authentic learning experiences that engage my students in real-world problem solving using tools that help bridge the gap between school and the “real world.” Today, my senior Business Ethics students set up their blogs so they can blog about their weekly reading assignments, comment on each other’s thoughts, and follow other people who are writing about business ethics. My juniors began their summer reading project today; I have at least one student who expressed interest in the Pi/Python/Minecraft project I wrote about in an earlier blog post.
The school year has officially begun, so I’m relieved that this is my last blog post for a while. However, I’m also excited to put into practice what I learned this summer. Another characteristic of wells is that they are frequently dug deep so they can continue to provide water for a long time. I have a hunch that this extension of the analogy will also be true of how this summer’s introduction to Edtech and MakerEd informs my teaching and classroom all year.