Learning via Making

I had heard about John Dewey in my undergrad classes, but it was just a name that I vaguely associated with pedagogical theory. Maybe I didn’t have enough experience to recognize how transformative his ideas were, or maybe I wasn’t paying attention. In any case, this week I came upon his Pedagogic Creed, written all the way back in 1897. Excited, I found myself reading excerpt after excerpt out loud to my long-suffering work buddy.


John Dewey


Check this out:

I believe that education, therefore, is a process of living and not a preparation for future living.

I believe that the school must represent present life-life as real and vital to the child as that which he carries on in the home, in the neighborhood, or on the playground.

I believe that education which does not occur through forms of life, or that are worth living for their own sake, is always a poor substitute for the genuine reality and tends to cramp and to deaden.

Students don’t need to wait for adulthood before they can create and contribute to their society. And teachers, at their best, create classrooms that are interwoven with students’ realities and encourage and celebrate student contributions to society.

This philosophy fits perfectly with another idea, that of fostering a maker culture. We may live in a consumer culture, but we human beings are natural-born makers. We love experimenting, tinkering, creating. Our most celebrated icons are makers, and every one of us – child, teenager, and adult alike- can be makers as well.

In making that shift from consumer to creator, we also move from passive to active learners, just like John Dewey wrote. We don’t save our learning for a day distant in the future when we are hired by some office or firm, but we play with it right now and see if we can make something new while we are at it.

Take a look at this video I made in tribute to John Dewey and celebrating the fusion of education and maker culture.




“My Pedagogic Creed,” by John Dewey. First published in The School Journal, Volume LIV, Number 3 (January 16, 1897), pages 77-80. http://infed.org/mobi/john-dewey-my-pedagogical-creed Accessed on 3/20/2016


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