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Learning inclusion through makerspace: a curriculum approach in Italy to share powerful ideas in a meaningful context

Learning inclusion through makerspace: a curriculum approach in Italy to share powerful ideas in... PurposeLearning by making is being recognized as an efficient technique for students to develop knowledge and skills simultaneously. However, one of the most urgent challenges that schools are facing nowadays is to reach every student in their individual profile and potential. Therefore, the purpose of this paper is to offer an integrated approach for re-thinking the role of Makerspace in a context of inclusion: the characteristics of this learning strategy, in contrast to the traditional currents, can offer promising paths to successfully build shared ideas.Design/methodology/approachThis paper critically analyses a Makerspace workshop implemented during a whole academic year in an Italian state primary school. This exploratory and instrumental qualitative approach (Baxter and Jack, 2008) included two channels that have been developed simultaneously, namely, technological skills and social competences.FindingsStemming from a long tradition of inclusion of children with various educational needs in the mainstream school system, the authors aim to share a success story of academic and social achievements: all the participants were able to develop at their own pace, sharing tools, reaching a balance between the demands of the task and their planning and negotiation skills.Research limitations/implicationsSmall group size and the reiterated daily interactions with differences embodied in students with special needs, immigration background, low SES, gifted.Practical implicationsThrough ad-hoc training, relatively marginalized pedagogical components (such as the ability to work in low-control situations, flexibility, student-centered learning environments) should be given a more prominent role and can be introduced in the desirable professional development. In addition, national and school policies are prompted to consider its inclusion as a slow-process that cannot be fully achieved in the presence of time and space constraints.Social implicationsThe curricular approach discussed above has shown the importance of inclusion of all students within mainstream schools. Pupils with atypical development can interact with other children, and in this way, they can have first-hand experience of how social dynamics unfold in a real environment. Moreover, they can act in a challenging context where, more often than not, they are pushed to achieve goals exceeding their supposed cognitive abilities. The other pupils are also gaining from these interactions: they can understand different points of view, thus developing empathy, and they can appreciate original ways to approach a task, with cognitive and emotional benefits. In addition, the constant relationship helps them to control their reactions to behavioral problems that sometimes classmates with special needs display and so they deepen their knowledge of and tolerance for others’ peculiarities.Originality/valueBased on the foundational principles of Papert’s powerful ideas and meaningful context, this paper describes the design principles of a successful makerspace, its integration in the school curriculum, and the achieved inclusion of children with Special Education Needs in a group of peers where adults became observers. Recommendations are discussed on how school practitioners can promote young children’s learning through making. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png The International Journal of Information and Learning Technology Emerald Publishing

Learning inclusion through makerspace: a curriculum approach in Italy to share powerful ideas in a meaningful context

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Publisher
Emerald Publishing
Copyright
Copyright © Emerald Group Publishing Limited
ISSN
2056-4880
DOI
10.1108/IJILT-10-2019-0095
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

PurposeLearning by making is being recognized as an efficient technique for students to develop knowledge and skills simultaneously. However, one of the most urgent challenges that schools are facing nowadays is to reach every student in their individual profile and potential. Therefore, the purpose of this paper is to offer an integrated approach for re-thinking the role of Makerspace in a context of inclusion: the characteristics of this learning strategy, in contrast to the traditional currents, can offer promising paths to successfully build shared ideas.Design/methodology/approachThis paper critically analyses a Makerspace workshop implemented during a whole academic year in an Italian state primary school. This exploratory and instrumental qualitative approach (Baxter and Jack, 2008) included two channels that have been developed simultaneously, namely, technological skills and social competences.FindingsStemming from a long tradition of inclusion of children with various educational needs in the mainstream school system, the authors aim to share a success story of academic and social achievements: all the participants were able to develop at their own pace, sharing tools, reaching a balance between the demands of the task and their planning and negotiation skills.Research limitations/implicationsSmall group size and the reiterated daily interactions with differences embodied in students with special needs, immigration background, low SES, gifted.Practical implicationsThrough ad-hoc training, relatively marginalized pedagogical components (such as the ability to work in low-control situations, flexibility, student-centered learning environments) should be given a more prominent role and can be introduced in the desirable professional development. In addition, national and school policies are prompted to consider its inclusion as a slow-process that cannot be fully achieved in the presence of time and space constraints.Social implicationsThe curricular approach discussed above has shown the importance of inclusion of all students within mainstream schools. Pupils with atypical development can interact with other children, and in this way, they can have first-hand experience of how social dynamics unfold in a real environment. Moreover, they can act in a challenging context where, more often than not, they are pushed to achieve goals exceeding their supposed cognitive abilities. The other pupils are also gaining from these interactions: they can understand different points of view, thus developing empathy, and they can appreciate original ways to approach a task, with cognitive and emotional benefits. In addition, the constant relationship helps them to control their reactions to behavioral problems that sometimes classmates with special needs display and so they deepen their knowledge of and tolerance for others’ peculiarities.Originality/valueBased on the foundational principles of Papert’s powerful ideas and meaningful context, this paper describes the design principles of a successful makerspace, its integration in the school curriculum, and the achieved inclusion of children with Special Education Needs in a group of peers where adults became observers. Recommendations are discussed on how school practitioners can promote young children’s learning through making.

Journal

The International Journal of Information and Learning TechnologyEmerald Publishing

Published: Apr 12, 2020

References