All these stories

The following post was originally written on the FCS Makerspace Blog on my last day at Friends’ Central. 

As I look around the makerspace on my last day as a teacher at FCS, I am struck by all of the stories I see around me:

 

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the trash can that speaks up on behalf of beginners

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the tangible equations that turned into roller coasters

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the teachers that were learners in afternoon workshops

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the Significant Objects that took students to Maker Faire

…and for a moment I think about how important it is that each of these stories be handed down to the next cohort of students and teachers who work and learn in the makerspace. There are hundreds of decisions and stories and moments captured in objects all around. The space itself is a snapshot of years of thinking and care. Won’t something be lost if these objects are stripped of their stories and nuance?

The answer: that’s the wrong question to ask. 

It isn’t possible to preserve the delicate histories of each of these objects, and to try would risk prioritizing the stories of the past over the lived experiences of future generations in the makerspace. To impose one limited set of stories — my (departing faculty) story about the trash can, or Liza’s (former English teacher) story about sewing fuzzy monsters, or Naomi’s (graduating senior) story about transforming her voice into jewelry — might be useful, but should not be revered as canonical.

Instead the lessons are what should survive: that even the little things have a voice in shaping the culture; that teachers are learners too; that the invisible can be made visible and beautiful. The lessons are the things that deserve to last. And if they do, they will last in the culture of the makerspace: the nature of the conversations between students, the kinds of projects that make it to the display shelf, the way newcomers are welcomed. The stories themselves may linger, or be forgotten, or collect dust on the blog… or, better yet, they might be recontextualized in the narratives that future learners are yet to write.

One of the amazing things about teaching in a school is that the entire community is remade every four years. 9th graders eventually become 12th graders, and then they graduate. The cycle repeats. As learners and makers, we owe it to each other not to fossilize the stories of the past but to listen to the voice of every person who walks through the door and to remake our stories, together.

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