Our Philosophy


Our Maker philosophy is grounded in the work of educational theorists like John Dewey, Jean Piaget, Maria Montessori, Howard Gardner, Mitch Resnick, and Alfie Kohn. More important, our decades of experience in formal and informal educational settings informs all of our work with children.

While safety is our primary concern, Miami Maker Kids experience the tools, resources and materials on hand as toy-like and the work they do as play. 

Our Maker mindset and program will ignite your child's imagination and give her/him the chance to: try something new, out of the box, and definitely "unschool-like"; use a new tool; make something with her/his own hands; and experience the sort of "failure, engineering style" that helps children come back to a problem with renewed interest and resolve.

We want children to enjoy imagining something in their heads as much as creating something with their hands. And when a prototype design does not work as originally imagined? We want children to be resilient, persistent problem-solvers. Failure, engineering style, is just another way to say, “I know I can figure this out! I know I can make this work!” 

Make. Play. Learn.

Hands on: Make. Play. Learn. Miami Maker Kids do all this and more. They ask questions, seek out answers, use real tools and lots of interesting materials, feel competent, inventive, useful, creative and successful. Miami Maker Kids are competent doers and Makers. It’s that simple!

Child-centered: Miami Maker Kids are elementary aged children and teens who make, play and learn in an engaging, supportive, creative environment. Our hands on projects tap into children's reservoir of imagination and creativity, tilting them toward mastery and personal happiness. 

Children crave authentic, meaningful opportunities to make, play and learn  

Happy: More than anything, we want children to be happy. Children who are persistent, determined, curious learners take on new challenges with a Maker Mindset that not only prepares them for the dynamic future they face but insures their present and future happiness. As Prof. Carol Dweck, has noted, "Happiness is being infinitely curious. It's constantly learning. It's constantly mastering new and difficult tasks." 

 

Collaborative: Children find their own partners and make their own groups. More often than not, children choose their best friends; occasionally, they choose to work alone.Teachers may ask probing, guiding questions but they will never impose an answer or do for the child what s/he is capable of doing her- or himself. This is why we say, “The teacher’s hand must forever be on the scale of learning, with as light or heavy a touch as needed, to keep each child tilted in the direction of learning, success and happiness.” 

In the best lesson, you only realize you've learned something once you've finished it

Student-directed: Unlike what occurs with regularity in a traditional school classroom, Miami Maker Kids are not tethered to their desks and chairs to work on activities that are rote, repetitious and cookie-cutter. There is nothing to memorize. There is no “high stakes testing” or formal testing or assessment of any kind. Miami Maker Kids don't sit up straight with their eyes on the board and their hands in the air. If a child wants to know “Is this good?” the only answer s/he’s likely to hear is, “The proof is in the pudding. Let’s see if it works.” 

Leftover parts are proof that you made it better

Failure, engineering style:  Mechanical engineering professor Chris Rogers at Tufts University says,  “A big part of our work is to try and teach failure.” Students who understand how to fail---how to handle setbacks, persevere in the face of adversity, and overcome frustrations and unwanted outcomes---learn to trust themselves more fully and take on greater and greater challenges with a positive, "can do" spirit. This is the Miami Maker Kid spirit.


Resources: 

  • Stuart Brown, Play: How it Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul
  • Dale Dougherty, “The Maker Mindset” in M. Honey & D. Kanter, Design Make Play
  • David Elkind, The Power of Play: Learning What Comes Naturally
  • John Taylor Gatto, Weapons of Mass Instruction
  • Alfie Kohn, The Schools Our Children Deserve
  • Sylvia Martinez and Gary Stager, Invent to Learn: Making, Tinkering, and Engineering in the Classroom
  • Wendy Mogel, The Blessing of a Skinned Knee
  • Daniel Pink, A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule The Future
  • Mitchell Resnick, “Designing for Tinkerability”
  • Mitchell Resnick Life long Kindergarten 
  • Ken Robinson, Out of Our Minds: Learning to be Creative
  • Ken Robinson, The Element
  • Tony Wagner, Creating Innovators