Personal Development describes the long-term and low-structure quadrant of our Maker Learning Matrix. Experiences, preferences and passions – combined with newly learned skills and concepts – ratchet up the knowledge baseline as the learning is self-determined. We have now internalized the motivation for learning what is needed in order to satisfy the goal of completing a personally meaningful project – the maker mindset is at work!
This is also an opportunity to engage design thinking as a process of approaching new projects or situations with intention and purpose. The iterative nature of design provides a healthy perspective on testing, failing and iterating. Design thinking also includes empathy and problem definition steps in which the designer must consider others’ perspectives in development of their own project. Personal projects, while “personal” in nature, benefit from external input as significant opportunities to see your work in another way – whether it affects your plan or not.
When we elaborate on new learning through direct application of skills to a meaningful project, a new opportunity emerges if we are encouraged to share our work with a broader audience. We develop our ability to effectively communicate through planning, questioning, documentation and presentation. And vital to communication is the ability to “defend” our work with reasoning to describe the critical thought process used at each decision point.
The bottom line goal of this quadrant of the Maker Learning Matrix is the development of personal strengths and expertise. We build an ever-growing sense of confidence in ourselves and our ability to continue to learn. And, even better, we develop a sense of community as our strengths are now generous gifts that we can contribute to a greater good.