British Council Creative Economy

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20 March 2017

Guest blog: Maker ed in the Chinese education system

Helen Steer blogs about her experience testing out different maker ed ideas in the Chinese education system

Helen Steer

Soldering class at SAIS school

Somehow it's over halfway through my residency in Shenzhen and I find myself totally in love with this city. 

The first week I spent a lot of time getting used to daily life here: finding my way around the metro, setting up a bank account, learning how to use Alipay, paying for my first order on TaoBao, making my first purchase using a QR code, taking my first Mandarin lessons (我要冰茶,不要糖) and collecting hilarious stickers on WeChat. 

Aside from the cultural adjustments, I've also been working hard, both at Litchee Labs and in coffee shops near my hotel in the leafy OCT area. My objective while I'm here is to learn as much as possible about the Chinese education system and how teachers and parents practise Maker Education in real life. I've visited five local schools so far, each with their own culture, challenges and specialities. I have given presentations about Maker Education and Project Based Learning in the UK, using examples from my own work, demonstrated fun projects using the BBC MicroBit and met over 100 educators. I've observed and taken part in Science classes, carpentry workshops, maker clubs and I even helped teach soldering in an Art class.

Helen Steer

Class at Nanwai school

The main output from my residency will be an ambitious international Maker Education "cheat sheet". I'm working with a number of other prominent educators in China, the U.S.A., Vietnam and South Africa to produce a series of simple documents outlining Maker Education culture in context, best practice and barriers in those countries. It will be easy to read with no acronyms, no industry language and a hard limit of five pages per country. We hope that this set of documents will be interesting and valuable for makers, teachers, students, government officials or businesses looking to expand beyond their home countries.

I will be publishing these Maker Education documents on my website at the end of the residency on my website and will also be sending a summary out to people on my newsletter. This is intended to be a first draft and a snapshot - so if you've something to add, something to edit or want to share information about your own country please do get in touch.

I am very excited about the remaining time on my residency and look forward to sharing my learning with you at the end.

WC: Helen_Leigh

TW: @helenleigh or @doitkits