Makerspaces in CTE (the challenge)

The seeds were planted about four or five years ago when I happened upon the maker movement and Make magazine while researching trends for a blog I had pitched to my employer, a career-and-technical educational publisher. The  blog ended up going nowhere (too many hoops to jump through). But it did get me excited again, especially after reading article after article about this “new artisan-maker economy” taking off.

YEA!! As in “it’s for real this time.”

Then I waited for the buzz among the career and technical (CTE) community to set in. I even pitched a book idea to one of the company’s authors on teaching students in “wearable technology and fashion design” maker-CTE classes (which I was sure were coming given how hot arduino projects were) some basic principles in electrical/electronics (in which he’s a whiz).

lupita nyong'o LED dress
Lupita Nyong’o’s LED dress worn to Star Wars opening (Credit: A

Surely, more than one enterprising school (high school, career center, two-year college) would see the trend and soon after school makerspaces would sprout up faster than crocus in spring.


Well, no.

Okay, kinda.

With the big push for stronger STEM education, robotics as well as robotic competitions got major play in high schools and college engineering programs (probably because of their strong academic focus and not strictly CTE one) .

But makerspaces… like those covered in the pages of Make magazine and a prominent symbol of the artisan-maker movement?

Not so much.

The unfortunate reality being that the educational system taken as a whole is pretty darn conservative. Traditionally minded. It takes a long time for new ideas to take hold.


Most educational innovations don’t make it that far. If new ideas are adopted at t’all, they end up similarly fated as most business management innovations (or the Common Core adoption).

In an ideas landfill.

But wait, all may not be lost.

The U.S. Department of Education just announced a CTE Makeover Challenge, to incite high schools (the traditional stronghold of career and technical educational programs) to:

“design makerspaces that strengthen next-generation career and technical skills.”

The competition, that will crown 10 winners (I mean “honorees”) who will divide the $200,000 purse, was just announced March 17th, so I haven’t had anyone in the CTE community mention it yet.

The Maker Movement’s coming to schools FOR REAL this time!!

Okay…I’ve got my fingers crossed.



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