An Ethic of Excellence – Five Takeaways

Student critique sessions can help establish an ethic of excellence.

Student critique sessions can help establish an ethic of excellence.

This spring I had the pleasure of attending the Maker Educator Convening & Maker Faire Bay Area.  I plan to reflect on my experience at both, but my learning started on the flight there as I read Ron Berger’s An Ethic of Excellence: Building a Culture of Craftsmanship. It was the perfect appetizer to the Maker festivities that week, and I highly recommend it for any parent, teacher, or administrator. It is particularly relevant to the field of MakerEd.

In the book, Berger merges his passion for carpentry with his role as an educator. Centered upon the idea of fostering a “culture of craftsmanship,” Berger explains his mindset, vision, and approach for guiding students to work that they are proud of – and that is worthy of pride.

Here were my five main takeaways, and how they’ll be applied to the Makerspace classes this year:

1) All projects will have a user or audience of more than just me. The idea here is that a having a public audience gives students a “reason to do well.”  At the end of each semester, this will culminate in an Makerspace Exhibition night.

This drone battle at Maker Faire had a large audience!

Designers of the drones in this battle at Maker Faire had a large public audience!

2) Students will document & reflect upon their projects in web-based portfolios. I’ve starting prototyping an exemplar portfolio. The focus will be showing the multiple iterations of a project and the “story of getting it right.”  Our focus is not creating innovators more so than innovations.

3) Each new project will begin with a “taste of excellence” or exemplar. As often as possible this will be something that has been created by a student. As Makerspace teacher, my role will be to “archive excellence.”

4) Project critique will be guided by three expectations: “Be kind, be specific, and be helpful.” Often times this critique will be completed gallery style and anonymously.

5) One last line from Berger that will guide Makerspace classes this year: “It is through their own work that their self-esteem will grow.”


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