Why doesn't everyone run them?

Makeathons are an incredible educational tool. So why are they so uncommon in schools?

There are several reasons why Makeathons are not yet common in educational contexts. One of the most common obstacles is a strictly scheduled curriculum that teachers must adhere to, which can’t be changed without significant administrative work involving many people at different levels of the school system.

There is also often a lack of resources, such as funding, space, or materials. Running a successful Makeathon requires significant planning, coordination, and resources, and not all schools may have the means to support such an initiative.

Another reason that schools do not routinely run Makeathons for their students is simply a lack of awareness or understanding of the benefits of Makeathons and the constructivist educational philosophy that underlies them. Some educators may be more traditional in their teaching methods and may not see the value of a hands-on, collaborative approach to learning.

Additionally, some schools may have competing priorities, such as preparing students for standardised tests or meeting other academic requirements, which may leave little room for more open-ended and creative learning experiences like Makeathons. Finally, some schools or teachers may simply prefer other educational approaches that they feel are more effective for their students.

Outside of the school context - for instance, in afterschool or extracurricular programmes - a criticism of Makeathons that could be raised is that they may not be accessible to all young people, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds and those who live in remote locations or with limited access to technology and resources. This could result in a lack of diversity and representation among participants, which could limit the range of perspectives and ideas generated during the event.

Another potential critique could be that Makeathons may not be effective for all types of learners. Some students may not thrive in collaborative and interdisciplinary settings and may require more structured, individualised learning experiences. In addition, the open-ended nature of Makeathons may not provide enough guidance for some learners, who may struggle to identify problems and develop solutions without more structured guidance from educators.

Finally, critics of the constructivist educational philosophy argue that the emphasis on student-led learning and exploration may not provide students with a strong enough foundation of basic knowledge and skills. Without a structured curriculum, students may not acquire the foundational knowledge necessary to succeed in higher-level learning and career opportunities.

In order to get buy-in and support from schools, local government, sponsors or other stakeholders, it is important to bear these critiques in mind and develop mitigation strategies that make your event more inclusive, diverse and integrated with a more formal curriculum.

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