Over the past several years there has been a major push for “College and Career Readiness”. This mind shift began when states began adding Common Core Standards. It was intended to get students thinking about life after high school and prepare students to be academically successful in a college or career setting. Many states are now using college entrance exams as their state end of year standardized test. By doing so, it allows the student to partially meet college admission requirements. However, pushing college readiness only is dangerous. It puts a potential financial strain on students and their parents. Simply put, college is expensive. There are a growing number of students graduating with significant student loan debt, which leads many to believe that college may not be for everyone. Especially if their wage doesn’t outweigh the cost of their financed education, it is causing many students and parents to look into other options. Trades, apprenticeships, military training, and certificate programs can often lead to successful careers that pay more than most jobs that require a college degree. With the rising cost of living combined with student loan payments, this is a no brainer.
Education has always been called the “Great Equalizer”. Education doesn’t just mean attending college and receiving a degree. Broadly put, education means acquiring knowledge. Knowledge can also be found in the demonstration of a skill or trade. Makerspaces can provide many opportunities for students to solve real life problems while learning new skills such as:
Getting along with others
Communication through various means
Oral Speaking skills
“Gamifying your classroom” is another buzzword that goes hand in hand with makerspaces. Many soft skills can be taught in a fun way. This concept is not new, as a fourth grader back in the 80’s, I remember learning to balance a checkbook. I received money for doing jobs in the classroom and also paid “bills”. We had another game-type stations such as a “phone center“ where we learned how to talk on the phone to various callers. Soft skills are extremely valuable to employers. If an employee can communicate and get along with others, they are assets to any organization. I think back and am in awe of how these small “games” have had a huge impact on me. This is why I choose to have makerspaces and games in my classroom.
Coding clubs are becoming increasingly popular makerspaces. Students can learn computer programming and earn coding certificates before graduating from high school. Most of the time, these courses cost little or nothing and students can be making real money. They may choose to further their careers with on the job training or apprenticeships down the road. Online or cyber jobs, with specialized training like coding, are becoming more common and highly sought after for their workplace flexibility and wage.
Whether a student decides to pursue college, trade school, military training, or earn a certificate we need to realize that they all contribute to our society, which should be the ultimate goal of education. We need students to learn to get along and be problem solvers. Makerspaces encourage these skills in a fun way and can have a lasting impact!