Katie Baggs – Makeme Toolkit Winner’s Story

Katie Baggs MAKEME Toolkit is a proposal to teach all subjects through making. The toolkit is aimed at all secondary teachers at British schools. The project was Highly Commended in the 2016 Creative Conscience Awards. Designer Katie Baggs shares her experience:

Katie Platts-Baggs

The idea

My Make Me project idea was inspired by the stark statistic that there was a 30% less take up of students taking design and technology GCSE last year. I enjoyed my DT classes at school; designing, creating and realising projects from product design to my own fashion label. Having the freedom and support to bring my own ideas to life confirmed school was a great place to be and increased my interest in other subjects, like maths and science. I knew this would be the same for others, so I set about learning how I could enable more people to enjoy the benefits of making.

My project was led heavily by research into why the resurgence of the maker culture has been so important. I revisited the book The Power of Making, the 2011 exhibition held at the Victoria and Albert Museum, and spent time in FabLabs and Makerspaces. Most importantly I gained greater understanding of the challenges of our educational environment from interviews and surveys with students and teachers from two schools I visited: Alec Reed Academy and Queensmill School of Autism.

  • Key insights from this primary research included:
  • Children like design and technology because it gives them independence.
  • Teachers are seeking a new way to engage and enthuse children in not only the making professions but also in STEM subjects like Maths, Science and English.
  • The best innovation is happening when people start to play in the classroom. Highlighting the value of students taking risks in a safe environment is a priority.

These findings led me to consider how we can support teachers to put play at the centre of education and get children to take ownership of their own education. I decided to explore a complete re-imagination of the school curriculum.

Katheryn Platts-Baggs

The vision

I learnt from an early age was that if design is done well it works for everyone. It’s cheaper, more efficient, more enjoyable, inclusive and accessible. We need to create more opportunities for different types of people to learn.

My dream outcome for the project would be a restructure of the curriculum:

  • Teachers co-designing modules with other teachers from other departments and schools. These schools could even be in other countries.
  • Teachers collaborating with people from other disciplines such as makers, scientists and historians to create lessons.
  • Teachers and children engaging in Skype lessons with these other professionals from around the world, sharing knowledge, resources and tools.
  • Teachers and children co-designing lessons with parents, friends and families to develop a new education structure together. This would put children at the centre of their own education, making decisions about what they will learn.

What next?

Since gaining the Creative Conscience award I have contacted schools to be involved in piloting the project and met many different inspiring people to talk through the idea. This has been invaluable in gaining the courage to keep going. Creating a network of inspiring people is important! Everyone loves coffee! I try to set up at least one new coffee meeting a week to keep up the momentum.

I also spent an exciting 2 months working for the Service Design Fringe Festival as the Captain of the Ambassadors. The festival runs alongside the London Design Festival. It was an 11 day festival with talks, events and workshops about service design.

Having just graduated my main priority has been to gain employment to support the creation of my project. Having my work recognised by the Creative Conscience awards has given me a lot more confidence in my abilities. I am extremely proud to be attached to it and have met a really interesting group of people along the way, and hope that this support will be a building block in helping my project to grow.

Follow Katie on Twitter