User Generated Education

Education as it should be – passion-based.

Maker Education and Experiential Education

with 34 comments

As those who follow me on Twitter and via this blog know, I am an advocate of the Maker Education movement.  The reason, as I’ve mentioned, is that I come from a background in Experiential Education.  Many of underlying principles and learning activities related to maker education fit nicely into the tenets and principles related to experiential education.  Since this discipline-learning philosophy has been around a lot longer than the more formalized, current maker education movement, those attempting to move maker education into more traditional educational settings might draw from the writings and literature of experiential education to help explain and contextualized maker education.

Experiential Education, Maker Education, and John Dewey


Many look at the philosophy and writings of John Dewey as providing the foundation of experiential education.

For Dewey, experiences could be judged to be educative if they led to further growth, intellectually and morally; if there was a benefit to the community; and if the experience resulted in affective qualities that led to continued growth, such as curiosity, initiative, and a sense of purpose. (Experiential Education – Brief History of the Role of Experience in Education, Roles for the Teacher and the Student)

There is a congruence between these ideas proposed by Dewey and the Maker Mindset as discussed by Dale Dougherty, founder of Maker Media:

Fostering the maker mindset through education is a fundamentally human project to support the growth and development of another person not just physically, but mentally and emotionally. Learning should focus on the whole person because any truly creative enterprise requires all of us, not just some part. It is the difference between a child who is directed to perform a task and one who is self-directed to figure out what to do. That kind of transformation, that kind of personal and social change, is what making is about. (The Maker Mindset)

Paula Hogg in her post Why Dewey would applaud the maker movement in schools provides more insights about the connection of Dewey’s ideas with Maker Education.

In a maker environment children are at the center of the learning and it’s the child’s interests that drive the activities. This echoes the thinking of John Dewey John Dewey who said in My Pedagogical Creed “The child’s own instincts and powers furnish the material and give the starting point for all education”  Dewey believed that all too often children are passively absorbing facts from the teacher and learning through play, exploration and inquiry is sidelined for strict discipline. Instead he thinks school should be places where children are actively learning through their own experience and working together helping one another and sharing the tasks. Doing and learning through play, tinkering, exploring and making are critical components of maker education.

Dewey also believed that the problem with traditional schooling is that it disjointed from the real workings of the world and therefore cannot prepare children for their adult lives. He goes on to say: “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 play-ground” Central to the maker pedagogy is that learning must be meaningful and have a purpose for the child. It is about creating meaningful products – not just doing for the sake of doing. Children must be involved in tasks that include real life problem solving that is relevant and meaningful to them and their world. (Why Dewey would applaud the maker movement in schools)

The Practices of Experiential Education as Applied to Maker Education

The Association for Experiential Education, established in the early 1970s, proposed that the following principles mark the practice of Experiential Education.  I took liberty in highlighting those phrases/practices that I believe also characterize Maker Education.

  • Experiences are structured to require the learners to take initiative, make decisions and be accountable for results.
  • Throughout the experiential learning process, the learner is actively engaged in posing questions, investigating, experimenting, being curious, solving problems, assuming responsibility, being creative, and constructing meaning.
  • Learners are engaged intellectually, emotionally, socially, soulfully and/or physically. This involvement produces a perception that the learning task is authentic.
  • The results of the learning are personal and form the basis for future experience and learning.
  • Relationships are developed and nurtured: learner to self, learner to others and learner to the world at large.
  • The educators and learners may experience success, failure, adventure, risk-taking and uncertainty, because the outcomes of experience cannot totally be predicted.
  • The educator’s primary roles include setting suitable experiences, posing problems, setting boundaries, supporting learners, insuring physical and emotional safety, and facilitating the learning process.
  • The educator recognizes and encourages spontaneous opportunities for learning.
  • The design of the learning experience includes the possibility to learn from natural consequences, mistakes and successes.

Maker Education as Experiential Education    


Written by Jackie Gerstein, Ed.D.

June 22, 2014 at 6:22 pm

34 Responses

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  1. I’m on the same page as you Jackie. Good ideas never seem to fully die, although we sometimes bury them. The truly relevant ones always pop back up, but why don’t more people concerned bout educating the children of today see this. I go back to the days of the ‘open classroom’ taught the way it was meant to be and welcome the Maker Movement to form a partner with all our technology exploration. Next year we have formed a partnership with the Maker Lab at the Peabody Essex Museum in our community. Canj’t wait.


    June 22, 2014 at 6:41 pm

    • I promote any current trend that helps us get back to what I consider primary education – hands-on with sweat and grind; creativity; ahas; and lots of self-directed discoveries! Good luck with the partnership.

      Jackie Gerstein, Ed.D.

      June 22, 2014 at 6:45 pm

    • Classroom becomes an huge lab, educator and students great explorers!

      Kelly Castro

      January 28, 2019 at 3:51 pm

  2. Nice connections. I can’t tell you how many teachers say to me -” it’s great this Maker stuff is getting a lot of publicity, but these are things I used to do in my classroom, and now I’m not allowed to.”

    They see it as a waste of time because they know that their administration really isn’t going to let them do things that aren’t on the test. Sometimes I tell that I see it as a Trojan Horse to bring back the stuff they used to do.

  3. Maker education closely associated with STEM learning, is an approach to problem-based and project-based learning that relies upon hands-on, often collaborative, learning experiences as a method for solving authentic problems. I think is a great method of teach and learn a new thing or language.


    January 15, 2018 at 7:09 pm

  4. When you give something for somebody to do, usually the person tries his/her best no to disappoint anybody. Learning with STEAM is quite the same thing. And moreover, when we do any activity, first of all we do no want to disappoint ourselves.


    January 18, 2018 at 8:43 pm

  5. KIds develop a bigger interest and motivation through the Maker Movement by developing their maker skills and learning how to support the environment and the world around them.


    January 20, 2018 at 12:50 pm

  6. It’s easier for the kids to learn through the Maker Movement, because they can develop skills.


    January 24, 2018 at 2:34 am

  7. Maker movement is an approach that encourages teachers and students to create and learn through the experience of making, instead of analyzing and observing only.


    January 26, 2018 at 11:42 am

  8. Makes movement is also a successful way of building positive relationships with students. Means walking side by side with learners while they become critical thinkers. Giving pupils the space and tools so they can see their capacity of creating something and experimenting for themselves is amazing.

    Bruna Sardinha

    February 22, 2018 at 1:25 pm

  9. Students can use their creativity and technology to their own good, to their community and engage even more in their educational lives.

    Luciana Morais

    March 18, 2018 at 9:13 pm

  10. This is something realy great! I love to do this in my classes, i give students ideas of many stuff they can do and creat lots of things. This way they learn the stuff forever…

    Josileine Pessoa Ferreira Gonçalves

    March 20, 2018 at 1:23 am

  11. The Maker Movement is interesting because it works with correctness and errors and, in this way, the student learns from they own experience, that is, the error is part of they learning process.

    Regiane Ramos do Nascimento

    April 12, 2018 at 8:53 pm

  12. Students can use their creative, they get more engaged and excited. You can give then space and the tools they need


    April 23, 2018 at 2:16 pm

  13. Classroom becomes an huge lab, educator and students great explorers!

    Míriam Shaw

    November 23, 2018 at 6:42 pm

  14. Education is passion. You have to be engaged in order to engage others. I love what I do.


    December 6, 2018 at 6:14 pm

  15. I see teaching as a daily challenge, cause we must be commited to what we teach, and at the same time get to know what are you students needs, not focused in a book, we must think outside the box, that´s what a 21st century student aims…


    December 10, 2018 at 1:13 pm

  16. When you ask a children to do something specially if they need to build or construct, it raises curiosity and also it is challenging, so they are motivated to finish the task with the teacher’s support. When they work in groups it develops communicative and collaborative skills. They are all enagaged to think and find a solution together. They learn by doing. They learn by making stuff and that what the Maker Movement is all about. It is meaningful for students!

    Deise Suzumura

    December 10, 2018 at 10:16 pm

  17. For me, some information are used, but they are very important to the teacher´s work nowadays. For example, the students being the center of the learning, working with their interests for driving the acitivities, learning meaningful and include them in the real life problems.

    Cris Villani Pinsetta Villani

    December 12, 2018 at 11:43 pm

  18. Many students feel that they aren’t as smart as the other students or that they don’t have personal skills, but if we use the maker education, we will help them to feel more confident and excited about what they can do, what they can create and mostly what they can be!


    December 16, 2018 at 12:22 pm

  19. Maker Education belives in students potencials, and respect their differences and prepare students to face the reality, learning from their mistakes.

    Ludmila Corrêa

    December 16, 2018 at 12:50 pm

  20. The students learning more doing things and creating something real new.The maker movement brings this colaborative and participative educational opportunity.

    Maria Martha

    December 17, 2018 at 4:19 am

  21. We live in a changing world so every day we encounter problems and challenges that lead us to questioning. Those questions are the beginning of the MAKER MOVEMENT approach. It all starts with a question and ends with a solution.

    Luciana Barreiros da Silva

    January 13, 2019 at 3:21 pm

  22. I believe that school in the past was too focused on teaching people about the past and left students to discover the present in the “real world”, it means only when they were already included in the job/career world. With the maker movement, students have a chance to learn not only with the real environment around them, but also with their own hands. This is what means to be envolved physically, soulfully, socially, intelectually and emotionally. These things are the ones that make any kind of knowledge last.

    Kelly Segat Sanches

    January 16, 2019 at 5:36 pm

  23. This is realy awesome. Kids can learn faster.


    January 24, 2019 at 1:54 pm

  24. It’s great the idea of the students simply learning by doing things, using their imagination and put their minds, bodies and souls to make it possible and get success.

    Ricado gomes

    January 27, 2019 at 11:03 pm

  25. It´s wonderful to see the pupils doing their work and have so much fun. They are creating things in a natural way using their thinking by solving problemas and learning how to work in a team. It was awesome to see the excitement in the pupils´faces.

    Katia Pires Mueller

    February 12, 2019 at 12:13 pm

  26. I really liked the text. I especially liked that it shows the relation to John Dewey, one of the fathers of experimental education or active learning. It’s funny because we can see that the Maker culture and STEAM are not absolutely new ideas. In fact, we can kind of trace it back to Confucious, who says something very similar to the first quote from Dewey in this text: “I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand.”

    October 7, 2019 at 1:45 am

  27. I really liked this text, because it showed the differents points of view about Maker Movement and showed that have people who tried to used this but some school haven’t an open mind. we must think outside the box, that´s what a 21st century student aims…


    November 20, 2019 at 10:14 pm

  28. It’s just an engaging, meaningful way of geeting kids involved in their learning. They no longer get to take the backseat, they become the driver. Awesome!

    Christopher Allen Whitt

    December 18, 2019 at 7:55 pm

  29. Students begin to learn and to understand more perfectly with and resources. They become better learners about the English language.

    Adriana Colombo Lobo

    January 22, 2020 at 10:12 pm

  30. If students are truly engaged in a problem-solving activity, then learning will be much more meaningful for them. Students need motivation and they need to be challenged. Makers Education is a great way of promoting rich learning opportunities for the students.


    February 5, 2020 at 12:48 pm

  31. Maker education gives the students the opportunity to put into practice what they are learning. It’s really good to see the enthusiasm they have in such activities.

    Jafé Alves

    March 24, 2020 at 1:10 pm

  32. Maker Education builds a strong bridge to connect students to the real world providing them opportunities to solve problems which can foster their development critical thinking.

    Ana Bárbara Vilial

    May 1, 2020 at 7:57 pm

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