Maker Spirit Provides New Possibilities for Special Education

by Jia-Jheng Yeh

Maker spirit that emphasizes practical experience and hands-on operation has now made its way into education. It can also be applied to students with special education needs, where students are encouraged to try new things and seek their potentials in different fields.

Learning can be “fun”tastic with Maker Spirit

Yu-Cheng Yang, who used to be in the bottom class for English remedial teaching in primary school, was diagnosed with atypical autism in secondary school. Yang used to have had no motivation for learning, because he was not good at interacting with others. He was even left out by peers, which worried his parents a lot. In the face of this, Yang’s parents were not discouraged; instead, they spent a lot of time trying to find where Yang’s interest lay and encouraging him to build things by himself.

Yang has been fond of computers since he was little. Starting from the third grade of primary school, he has been studying programming languages. His father and mother, who teach sports and special education, play important roles in his life. Yang’s father, who is also an experienced Maker, often encourages Yang to participate in various exhibitions and contests, where Yang built all kinds of works such as tug-of-war robots and models of energy-saving houses with environmental sensors. Yang even signed up for International Exhibition for Young Inventors (IEYI), where he presented great projects that won great recognition in two consecutive years.

Discovering the learning motivation for children in special education through Maker spirit

No one left behind in the system

Jack Hsu, who is visually impaired, majored in special education in college and now teaches mechanics, information engineering, and special education. People even refer to Hsu as the Maker in special education. Hsu was born with amblyopia and did not receive any special education when he was in primary school and secondary school. Due to his lack of understanding in the scope of disabilities, Hsu had no idea how to deal with his condition in daily life, resulting in more difficulties in studying.

With the idea of including children with special needs in the regular education system, Hsu is determined to devote himself to safeguarding the children’s rights to education. With information technology and network becoming more prevalent, Hsu found that using computer for learning can make up for children’s difficulty in writing, such as the illegible handwriting or time-consuming note-taking caused by their physical conditions. Now, teaching materials can be compiled and designed online, and students are able to take their time learning programming languages and setting up websites. This is a perfect integration of applied information technology and education. Being well aware that special education students required repeated practice and longer time to process the lessons taught, Hsu also built assistive devices on his own to facilitate his teachings and shares the resources with the public.

Conclusion

Maker spirit allows applying the right teaching methods and tools to students with different backgrounds and abilities. This makes it possible for students to explore what interests them and to try hands-on practices. Through processing and redesigning the workflow, students can look into so many possibilities for their future planning.

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