Last weekend, I had the pleasure of attending the 2016 FabLearn Conference. It was an overall fantastic event and you can watch some of the highlights on the FabLearn page.
As was the case when I attended FabLearn three years ago, I was again most inspired by Leah Buechley's talk, titled Inclusive Maker Education. (Yes, you can watch it by clicking the highlights link above!) One slide she presented included the following quote: "If you are not actively working to create an inclusive program, you are creating a discriminatory one." That quote challenged me throughout the weekend. I have long advocated for all students having access to a variety of creative experiences, including those in making. As I thought about that quote throughout the conference though, it connected with me in a couple other ways.
One student had created a game, using Scratch and a Makey Makey, where the goal was to "beat up Trump". I felt uncomfortable with the liberal bias embedded, but realized even more of the uncomfortability came from the advocating violence toward another human. As a family member said when I brought it up: No matter how you feel about him, he could be our next President and advocating violence toward anyone, especially political leaders, is horrifying.
Another moment where Dr. Buechley's quote rang true was in an electronics workshop I attended. I was in a group with two others who were very engaged in learning about the technology in front of us and what we could do. Just as we began working on what would be a fun and complex project, we were told that we had to stick to the instructions in the lesson plan, which were a bit more simplistic and not nearly as exciting. Yes, we did our work, but we were not as engaged as we could've been. Had this workshop been part of a longer course, we likely all would've disengaged from classroom participation at some point.
Inclusion is not just access, but respecting all points of view and reaching all learners where they are, not where we want them to be.
Below are my sketchnotes from some of the weekend's sessions.
* Cross-posted on Medium.