Research News

UW's Halverson speaks with Education Week about growing maker movement

June 22, 2016

Education Week recently published a report headlined, “The ‘Maker’ Movement Is Coming to K-12: Can Schools Get It Right?”

The article begins by explaining how the “maker movement is going mainstream, migrating from museums, garages, and informal ‘faires’ into the highly regulated world of K-12 education. For fans of hands-on, student-driven learning, the shift presents an opportunity to breathe fresh life into old teaching philosophies. And for the maker community, too often focused on the interests of middle-class white men and boys, the move into public schools marks a chance to diversify.”

Erica Halverson 2015
The article then adds: “But as districts rush to embrace the trend, some key observers are also worried. Can schools, with their standards, state tests, and bell schedules, maintain the do-it-yourself, only-if-you-want-to ethos that fueled making's popularity in the first place?”

UW-Madison’s Erica Halverson is among the range of experts -- from a number of fields -- interviewed for this in-depth Education Week report. Halverson is an associate professor with the School of Education’s No. 1-ranked Department of Curriculum and Instruction.

The Education Week report notes how one of the points of maker education is to find new ways to engage students, especially those who have struggled to find a comfortable place inside school.

The article reports how: “academics have consistently found that making ‘gives kids agency’ over their learning in ways that traditional classes often don't said Erica Halverson, an associate professor of curriculum and instruction at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.”

There's also mounting evidence that making is a good way to teach academic content, Education Week says.

“The fear out there is that schools have to choose between making and academic work, but empirically that turns out not to be true," Halverson tells Education Week.

To learn more about this nuanced topic, check out the entire report for free on the Education Week website.