Written by Ruta Kruliauskaite on June 27, 2016, 7:45pm
What were your favorite moments at ITP Camp so far? I think the first one was just even arriving on the first day: it was so exciting, I was just floating on that thrill for quite a while, because the sense of possibility and just the feeling of support from the people here felt like heaven. It felt like exactly what my happy place looks like. But specifically, the piezoelectric crystal workshop was fantastic: the idea of a slow education is something I’ve been toying with just like the idea of slow food movement. We’re always rushing to try and get as many facts across as possible and this was done in a very calm and very thoughtful pace and it allowed everybody to catch up with the deeper context of it. And it had some of my favorite things: crystal growing is amazing and seeing the molecular structure change and response was great. Well, we didn’t see that, but we saw evidence of the molecular structure changing in response to the flow of electricity passing through it. And that would make it actually make sound and then on the other hand striking it would create electricity -- it’s another fascination of mine. Also, they happen to be birefringent and produce wonderful refractions under polarized light which is another one of my favorite things. So that was kind of all awesomeness tied up in a bow. Beautiful.
Why Maker Education? I’ve been a teaching artist for thirty years. And so I think I was already doing what I would consider a maker education where I was approaching every curriculum topic through hands-on learning. And when that became articulated as the Maker movement I embraced it immediately and felt really supported by its premise of making and sharing and maintaining the comfort with failure, or not being a master. I think these are all really important characteristics of education and how we go around in the world: raising children to be creators and not only consumers. So Maker Education met with a lot of my primary drives that I’ve worked on already.
You say it was articulated as a Maker movement… what was it before? I think I have a very specific perspective because I’m looking at it as maker education. For me it was probably just a standard project based learning, which in school was pretty common. I think making something in response to the request to show what you know has been going on for a long time. But with the Maker movement it became a procedure by which it would be assumed that you would share what you know. That you are creating a community through this learning process. That it was lifelong learning. That teachers didn’t have to be experts if they were in a facilitator role. Student directed, inquiry based. It really kind of packaged a lot of things that were important and articulated them well. Although I think the Maker movement came out a bit more as an entrepreneurial spirit. And it was really that you could rapidly prototype from your desktop; you know digital fabrication and stuff, which is not really my part of it as much. But I don’t mean to dismiss it, it’s just not where I’ve been focused.
What’s your most exciting initiative around the Maker Education that you worked on? Right now I am happy to be working with a high school in Brooklyn, Williamsburg High School of Architecture and Design trying to move their school into the Automotive High School building. Automotive High School is a classic vocational education program that had been very successful and was a top school for a long time and then the approach to vocational education changed and then it became a kind of place to where students who weren’t succeeding in school were sent whether they were interested in that kind of learning or not. It was a very large school, there started to be a lot of problems and it became labeled as a failing school. There was even an attempt to close it down. It was kept open by a lawsuit which put it in a very weak status. So the school has been vulnerable for a long time. It’s still a really magnificent location and area itself still has a great potential. So with the Williamsburg High School of Architecture and Design we’re hoping for a community, career and technical education program at the school in which I would open a maker space that would be available to the students in the school, to the families, and to the larger community so that we could create more of a community interaction with the learning that’s going on in the school. Build more connection and trust because the school has been really isolated from the outside community. And also leading towards doing professional development around maker education, project based learning and integrated curriculum.
Any advice to future campers? Definitely don’t over schedule yourself because you will feel deprived and you don’t want to add that feeling to the mix of feelings that are at camp. You want to be able to take your time and do it all and not feel rushed or stressed.
Watch video for more responses from Kate: https://vimeo.com/172489896