“The best attribute of a well-run makerspace is the sharing of skills and knowledge. It starts with formal instruction, but the best learning takes place while one person is building or designing and someone else with just a little (or sometimes a ton) more experience lends a helping hand and the project gets upgraded in the process. The sharing philosophy gives a makerspace its magic. People show off their creations knowing criticism was left at the front door, and everyone feels comfortable asking for help, guidance, and input into projects as they go through the process. Sharing makes a makerspace community.” Mark Hatch, The Maker Movement Manifesto: Rules for Innovation in the New World of Crafters, Hackers, and Tinkerers
As Luke settled into our Studio community, he often reflected on his initial feelings about writing with others, and he identified making as the key that helped him overcome his resistance to writing. This enabled him to begin producing higher quality work. His willingness to share this expertise gave us much food for thought. We understood the importance of providing writers choice, but Luke taught us more about what that meant. Inviting writers to choose topics and forms was not enough. They needed to choose their tools and processes as well. This was the first time that we recognized the powerful potential for non-writing interests to fuel real writing practice.
We noticed that Luke gained a great deal of momentum when he was provided time and space he needed to think about who he was, what was causing his struggle, and how he could use what he was most passionate about to create his own solutions.
Luke went on to become a published writer who consistently shared his growing expertise with teachers and writers within and beyond our Studio. In 2009, Luke worked up enough courage to teach an entire room full of kids and teachers about the power of technology, how he uses it as a learner, and how others could do the same. The feedback that I received from his session gave me tremendous pause.
“This kid is the next Bill Gates,” one teacher told me.
“I learned more from Luke today than I did in many of the staff development sessions I sat through this year at my school,” someone else wrote.
“Can Luke work with me one on one?” another teacher asked, and this was more than possible that day because after his formal session, Luke spent the afternoon running a tech playground for teachers with his brother, Andrew.
Throughout that summer and fall, Luke and his friend Luke Clements used their Studio time to draft a collaborative story using Google Docs. There were no LEGOs involved this time. The making happened inside of a shared and very collaborative space. When I peeked into their work, I could hardly tell who contributed what to their work in progress. I asked if this mattered to them, and it didn’t. They were exchanging ideas and blending them freely.
“It’s like painting,” a bystander whispered. “When they mix their ideas together, they’re making a whole new color.”
This post is one in a series relevant to making writing.