IT TURNS OUT I wasn't the only person lifted by a weekend of making and creating--young Mia (8) also keeps chatting about what she saw, heard and did when at a Maker Meet  the evening before our annual ICT in Education Conference in Thurles, County Tipperary last weekend.
Mia has seen me working with the Youth Media Team who feature at major education events throughout Ireland. She thinks it's nice that these students actually get a voice in how the conferences unfold. And she knows our Youth Media Team complete an entire documentary package of researching, questioning, recording and photographing events. These teens are adding their voices to an important educational process.
Steve Wheeler, keynote speaking at #ictedu this year, consistently hammers home the message that "students should be at the centre of the learning process"  and it's a mantra we take to heart when we organise our own education conferences, Maker Meets and training sessions.
My wife and I took our two children to a Maker Meet to see if they could handle a teacher training session by observing the process. I thought our two youngsters might serve as trainees for one of the teachers. Something better happened because Dylan (4) and Mia (8) were allowed to make and break things alongside teachers. They earned active cameo roles in a small educational process. Mia made the perfect five-pointed star with a single cut.
As I watched them engage in a very active environment, I wondered whether any sort of metric existed to document similar positive activity in primary schools. Most of the discussion I hear, when online, during broadcasts and in person, concerns shortfalls in funding levels and the student-teacher ratios. While these are valuable statistics, I'd also like to read a chart documenting the number of creative sessions young primary students have written into their study plans. And the next time we have a meeting with Mia's primary school teacher, I'm politely raising the question.
In the meantime, I'm documenting the fun-filled activities that unfolded during the Thurles Maker Meet so we can offer the same kind of two-hour structure for the young children of my fellow staff members. Most of my colleagues live in homes filled with lively student voices--their own children. I think all of us would enjoy gaining insights about how our own children learn when engaged with constructive activities. The ones from the Maker Meet involve playful electronics, introductory rocket science, knitting and meticulous folding and cutting. I think our youngest deserve a chance to see what we're sharing with teachers. And I know my youngest will enjoy getting to a summer Maker Meet as much as he would like seeing Santa in the same venue.
1. Bernie Goldbach, "Another Successful Maker Meet", InsideView.ie, April 22, 2016.
2. Steve Wheeler, "Student Voices Unheard", Learning with 'e's, April 26, 2016.