Toolishness is Foolishness

Screen Shot 0029-04-04 at 2.48.26 PMGreat title:

The title is blatantly stolen from Mike Pelletier, Egmond Boon and Dion Norman‘s seminal EdTech Roadmap :- Don’t Just Do It -12 Step EdTech Roadmap for K-12 schools . These gentlemen are the playmakers of my rugby team. They wear the number 9, 10 and 15 jerseys and truly set me off on my EdTech Roadmap journey. I will always be internally grateful to them.

I was fortunate to meet these guys at an IB workshop at Canadian International School in Singapore October 2015. Mike and Dion gave a keynote on their Roadmap and I was hooked on so many levels. I was in awe of these guys who spoke so quietly and humbly but confidently, about how any school could embrace tech integration, as long as they followed the 12 steps from the start and embraced the ISTE Standards .

Back to the title:

So Toolishness is Foolishness! To summarise this chapter briefly,  the authors identified how many schools and school leaders went out and bought all the latest shiny tech hardware but had no plan of how to integrate it and embed it. These tools were great to show off to prospective parents but stood there gathering dust. The issue continues today. Many schools are jumping on board the Maker Movement and developing high budget Makerspaces but in some cases, no roadmap of how high-tech tools such as 3D printers and robotics will be used.

Maker Movement Mindset:

A group of colleagues and I are currently participating in Harvard’s Thinking and Learning in the Maker-Centred Classroom . The key text for the course is the Maker-Centred Learning: Empowering Young People to Shape Their Worlds . Two things that jumped out for me in the introduction to this book were, what a  maker is and how the maker movement has been narrowly represented. The definition of a maker in the book is:-

A maker might be someone who bakes bread or someone who quenches steel; she might be someone who builds chairs or someone who paints portraits. Ultimately, a maker is not a special title one achieves after gaining entry into an esoteric social club but rather is someone-anyone- who makes things. By understanding maker in this way, the maker community can be viewed as being inclusive, embracing, and welcoming to all those who make.’

As someone who sees them self as not very creative, my love of cooking all of a sudden made me feel empowered and gave me the agency I often lacked growing up.

The second stand out from the book was the narrow representation of the maker movement.

‘As designer, engineer and educator Leah Buechley criticizes, this narrow representation of makers places limits and constraints on the types of people who are identified as makers. To be more specific, she argues that the maker movement, as it has been portrayed in the popular press, can be seen as favoring the work and interests of white, middle-class males.’

Too many Makerspaces have ‘all the gear but no idea’. Administrators have gone out and bought high-end gadgets and gizmos to impress but have given little thought to how these tools will be embedded and utilised authentically in the curriculum.

So to wrap up, the maker movement should be as inclusive and broad as possible. All students should have the opportunity to feel empowered and feel that they are a maker. Socio-demographic and socio-economic factors should not be used as excuses to confine who can or can not be a maker. School administrators are therefore encouraged to think broadly rather than narrowly as they develop their maker movements in their schools. We are all makers!




Add yours →

  1. Enjoyed reading this and I do worry about the very expensive ‘kits’ designed to make kids makers. Plans for POI next year for making are everything from needle work to robotics to industrial art. Pleased so far our entire maker spend has been the equivalent of about 3 macbook pros over 2 years. Having mainland China on the doorstep is reason enough to not need to spend a fortune.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hey Stu.
      Great to hear from you and your thoughts. Impressive that your Maker spend has been so frugal. As a matter of interest, does this include your 3D printers?
      If and when you have time, I’d strongly recommend Thinking and Learning in the Maker-Centred Classroom as a thought provoking read. Will PM you about a Maker Jam I am trying to put together in November.
      All the best.


Leave a Reply to dickiewt Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: