Making Is a Stance Toward Learning: Combining Learner Agency with Tinkering, Debugging and Project-based Learning

The tyranny of correct answers masks a vital and essential element of learning — the practice of debugging. When you make something, however, especially something that involves code and/or electronic or mechanical components, it is to be expected that your project will not work the first time you turn it on. Coding and making involves a great deal of systematic problem-solving to find and eliminate bugs.

There’s nothing like the feeling when the last bug has been squashed and your creation beeps or moves or lights up. This kind of learning isn’t confined to tangible DIY projects. Confining learning to memorizing the right answers or grooving in a particular procedure deprives learners of the kind of systematic tinkering, debugging and discovery that can bring joy and insight to any subject. And, an important meta-lesson can be learned: errors and bugs are clues, not signs of failure; perseverance can turn wrong guesses into right answers.

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