What would school look like if it was all about actively doing stuff — making, tinkering, building, exploring — instead of just passively learning about stuff? That’s the question the “Maker Kids” edition of TEDx Kids took up in Brussels last week. And the Mozilla Hackasaurus crew were there to bring web-making and hacking into the mix.
Sixty fired-up 10-year-olds got their hands dirty in a day of workshops and mini-maker jams, spanning everything from building their own chairs to soddering to tinkering with Arduino to remixing their own hip hop singles. All carved into 45-minute blocks, approximating a crazy utopian school day from the future.
TEDx Kids Brussels — June 2011, a gallery on Flickr.
Web-making with Mozilla’s Hackasaurus
Learning as making, tinkering and hacking
The event offered a taste of how the DIY maker spirit is revitalizing learning. There’s a growing sense that traditional education contains too much passive “book learning,” making it out of touch and dull. And that “hands-on learning” or “engaged learning” — learning by doing — works better. It’s what kids want, what parents want for their kids, and what innovative educators like Gever Tulley — who outlined the active learning philosophy behind his “Tinkering School” backstage at the TEDx event — are already providing.
“The re-enchantment of education”
That’s how one of TEDx speaker referred to the impact these collective ideas are having on learning. There’s a renaissance stirring. Talking about educational reform once seemed dry as dust — now it’s a topic full of life and magic. Dave Eggers’ 826 Valencia project, with its Pirate and Superhero Supply Stores. Quest to Learn and its “video game school.” DIY U. The Tinkering School and “50 Dangerous Things You Should Let Your Kids Do.” HASTAC’s Future Class. MacArthur’s Digital Media and Learning community and its vision for Connected Learning.
Something’s up. It’s a diverse movement of youth, educators and edu-preneurs attacking the idea that learning has to be boring, difficult, or confined to school. And it represents a huge opportunity for the open web and Mozilla mission.