Story-Telling as a Maker Space

While I'm working on editing Keeper of the Creatures, I'm also working on a blended chapter book / graphic novel called Wendell the World's Worst Wizard (should be out in a year or so).

"We need maker spaces," a man says. "Let kids tinker with stuff. Let them code. Let them build things. It'll be more important down the road than if they were just writing stories."

I overheard those words at a tech conference. It wasn't trying to eavesdrop. But I was left with a lingering sense that story-telling is only cool right now if it's non-fiction and it has the word "digital" attached to it. For all the talk of creativity and maker spaces, there's a sense that novels, narratives and fiction don't really have a place unless it's in a video game or in augmented reality.

But why can't tinkering, innovating, revising and constructing all apply to story-telling? Why can't a novel be considered another form of augmented reality? Why can't creativity include creating something with words and ideas?

I've built stuff before, but I find myself bored with the physics of it. But let me plunge into the fantastical, into the fictional, and I'm good. Let me create characters and imagine them to the detail until it feels like I want to meet them in person. Let me dream up a setting. Let me work through a plot and struggle with how it will keep the reader's attention.

I could be wrong, but I think quite a few students would enjoy that process as well - not because it will get them a job, but because story-telling is a part of what makes us human. Tech tools come and go. Social context changes. But stories. Man, we're always drawn toward stories.

John Spencer is a teacher, author, speaker, and incessant doodler.
He is the co-author of Wendell the World's Worst Wizard
and the co-founder of Write About .

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