Thinking beyond Maker Jawn

I have been working with Maker Jawn for the past two months and enjoy going to work everyday where I get to foster participant’s learning in a safe, interest driven, environment. The library feels like a haven space for me, as a Mentor, and I think it is safe to say that the Makers have a similar feeling. One of Maker Jawn’s goals is to create a space that allows participants to take risks, leaving room for failure without judgement and ultimately making some pretty awesome projects.

So, how do we negotiate the space outside the doors and outside the time frame? I wonder if there is a way to incorporate the Maker mindset into other aspects of the participants daily lives. The twenty-first century skills required to complete Maker projects are directly applicable to daily life.  Often skills utilized in group projects or activities are the same skills we need to effectively live and work with other people. Basically, principles of compromise, support and active listening can help you make a cool iStopMotion film, but they can also help you learn better from the people and friends around you all the time!

Collaboration is a dynamic way to take learning to the next level without even noticing.  When working in a group there is the opportunity for everyone to bring their experiences and ideas to the table.  Projects naturally expand and take a form that wouldn’t have otherwise occurred.  Learning from peers allows the usually academic hierarchy to fall away, and with that freedom the participants thrive.  In other words, once we are all learning from each other in an open and receptive way, everyone can feel safe to take risk.

A challenge I have encountered on occasion within the Maker Jawn space occurs when new participants step into the space without the same non judgement and risk taking attitude.  I have come to discover that a major part of Maker Jawn is opening the floor to outsiders with positive encouragement to initiate the affirmation of each person’s own creativity.  I find especially with the younger participants, as soon as they receive positive reinforcement about an idea, they begin expanding on the idea until it becomes a complex goal.  I love when this happens! Their seed grows and becomes a flower.  Often the idea becomes a project using multiple mediums, and they have the opportunity to work with materials they hadn’t used before.

My hope is that eventually the participants find their own positive reinforcement from within, and use a collaborative model to start and make their own projects outside the doors!

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