"Why We Banned Legos"
"Into their coffee shops and houses, the children were building their assumptions about ownership and the social power it conveys — assumptions that mirrored those of a class-based, capitalist society — a society that we teachers believe to be unjust and oppressive. As we watched the children build, we became increasingly concerned."
...And, in the end, the children invent Communism.
April 2nd, 2007 5:23pm
Now I know what that mad glint is in my 3 year old's eye when he sprawls the Lego onto the carpet.
Apart from turning your child into a commie, have you ever experienced the unearthly pain of STANDING on that plastic shit with your bare feet?
Lego is the work of Beelzebub !!
April 2nd, 2007 5:28pm
Outlawing something doesn't prevent it. They would be helping the kids if they helped them learn to deal with the resulting problems rather than sweep them under their insecurities.
son of parnas
April 2nd, 2007 5:28pm
You're all hopeless fags. No wonder I feel so superior.*
*Note to self - a strategically placed cut & paste can fool others that I've been given the sidebar or the holy title bar, and diminish the original poster's wit & originality.
April 2nd, 2007 5:35pm
son, go read the article.
April 2nd, 2007 5:37pm
SoP didn't read the article.
April 2nd, 2007 5:46pm
> "Some-body's got to be in charge or there would be chaos," and "The little kids ask me because I'm good at Legos."
Kids really learn everything they need to know in kindergarden.
April 2nd, 2007 5:48pm
Ah, but the children didn't exactly invent communism all by themselves. They were pushed by a higher power into devising cooperative rules of play as a condition on getting the Lego back.
The trouble is that in society at large, there is no "higher power" except certain elements of that same society. So any form of communism in society must necessarily involve the exercise of power and authority by some faction of that society, which goes against the very ideals that communism espouses.
April 2nd, 2007 5:56pm
I was impressed that the teachers decided to go "off plan" to explore this with the kids.
I liked what the kids said about ownership -- "If I make it, it's mine" "If I buy it, it's mine"
April 2nd, 2007 6:25pm
The author/teachers are obviously much, much smarter than average (which makes sense, it being a charter school and all).
So what's the ?off/cot/blah version of legos? We went through a lot of the same sorts of dramas in the past.
April 2nd, 2007 6:34pm
don't put your lousy rip-off forum next to ?off/cot , mmmmkay?
April 2nd, 2007 6:36pm
Thats an interesting reaction, please, go on. How does blah make you feel? Be as concise as possible as this is being recorded for posterity.
April 2nd, 2007 6:48pm
blah makes me angry. I feel like we had a good forum and now it's shit because half the people left for blah.
quid pro quo, how does blah make you feel?
April 2nd, 2007 7:26pm
There's a very strong theme running in this thread concerning privatisation of the commons ...
April 2nd, 2007 7:27pm
I'm not aware that blah makes me feel any particular way, though I frequently prefer posting there because there aren't anonymous people hurling random insults & derailing threads.
"So any form of communism in society must necessarily involve the exercise of power and authority by some faction of that society, which goes against the very ideals that communism espouses."
Interesting. A lot of the kids who were in power said similar things, or the reverse of that - I'm not exercising power, or I have to have power or it would be chaos, etc.
Any allocation of resources must involve an exercise of power. Power is, almost by definition, the ability to allocate resources - those having more resources be it by chance or by an act of will have more resources to allocate & therefore more power.
April 2nd, 2007 7:39pm
The teachers were clearly morons -- 'let's get rid of arbitrary power hierarchies by imposing our own arbitrary power hierarchy.'
Seriously, the kids new more about the real world than the teachers did.
The kids should join up into a union or something. Only those who post pics of their asses get in.
April 2nd, 2007 7:51pm
What do you expect from a "charter school?" The teachers are chosen based on their ideology & idealism.
April 2nd, 2007 8:01pm
Problems like this are a large part of the reason every daycare I've ever worked in has required kids to clean up all the legos at the end of the day.
Other bits of "hmmm" in the article:
Some chldren accidentally demolished Legotown? I guess the true story of how it was intentionally smashed either in a calculated revolt of the non-lego owning classes or in an act of random violence is too ugly or these hippies to take.
The opening quote from the eight year old about using more "cool pieces" because it's for "public use." That's not a quote. No eight year old talks like this.
Very well behaved kids and plenty of staff at this place if they have time to worry about the stuff in this article.
April 2nd, 2007 8:01pm
What I was saying is that the children only came up with rules to govern sharing and equal distribution of wealth when the teachers steered them in that direction. Left to their own devices, it's not something that would have happened. In fact, their first experience with the Lego proved exactly the opposite.
Quoting the article: "We saw the decimation of Lego-town as an opportunity to launch a critical evaluation of Legotown and the inequities of private ownership and hierarchical authority on which it was founded. Our intention was to promote a contrasting set of values: collectivity, collaboration, resource-sharing, and full democratic participation."
But to reach that utopian vision, the teachers had to work hard to promote it in the minds of the children. If they didn't lead the way, it wouldn't have happened. There was no chance of it happening spontaneously.
Likewise, human societies will not spontaneously develop laws for sharing and equal distribution of wealth either. It will only happen where someone or some group takes the lead and steers everyone else in that direction. Also, it will not be a stable situation unless power is exerted by those at the top to maintain the structures, which comes full circle to "hierarchical authority".
April 2nd, 2007 8:01pm
bob - you work in daycare?
bon - I agree with you, it never would have evolved that way naturally.
April 2nd, 2007 8:15pm
>> calculated revolt of the non-lego owning classes <<
Who knew there was an Underground Lego Proletariat?
April 2nd, 2007 8:36pm
I remember reading a study, where very young boys were given "positive" toys.
Instead of toy guns, toy soldiers and forts, they were given medical toys such as a crutch, model doctors, model hospital, etc.
However it took them very little time to figure out a crutch could be a gun, the doctors and patients could be soldiers, the hospital could be used as a fort, etc.
Kids, especially boys, do have some horrible tendencies in play. Both the games, and how the kids play together. Do gooders see it as something to be cured.
But I say, in most cases, let the kids go. There is no evidence bad play causes harm. And the whole point of play is to test boundaries, do things that you can't do in real life etc. Kids are not miniature adults - they are qualitively different - so don't expect them to act according to adult standards.
April 2nd, 2007 8:40pm
Shit, I read a bit more of the article (still got bored part way through). short version: These teachers are wankers.
they created the situation of lego town, they grew and manipulated the situation, like some ghastly social science experiment.
April 2nd, 2007 8:45pm
~~x: yes. It's my faggy loves kids doesn't want to burn out on computers and go crazy job. It's not a day-care, but rather an after-school program. Of course, we have legos and I would snap the neck of any fool who tried to ban them. Lego kids are good kids, almost without exception. The article is correct they are paying security council level power politics with the pieces, which is great, because it means they aren't cutting each other's hair with the safety scissors, ingesting art supplies, or any of the other genuinely dangerous things that happen on a near daily basis in your average daycare.
April 2nd, 2007 8:50pm
At the end of the article, I think the cryptic reference to a school in Italy means "It's a Montessori school".
Interesting that they banned the Legos, UNTIL they could put in place appropriate rules to use the Legos with.
So they're not fascists, is what I'm saying.
And yes, short of The Rack, stepping on a Lego Brick is the next best thing to torture.
April 2nd, 2007 8:59pm
No. It's not Montessori. Reggio Emilia is another Italian philosophy of early childhood education. Lots of emphasis on the arts thus all the garbage about "drawing power." And teacher as co-learner and researcher thus all the soul-searching by the authors.
I'm not even sure a Montessori classroom would have legos. They have those brightly painted wooden blocks instead. And the kids would sure as hell have to clean legotown up at the end of the day.
28 blocks per kid? I don't know what the facists said about children's toys, but it's pretty draconian. I hope these kids aren't going to be denied the sublime pleasure of building a tower so tall that each piece has to be gingerly added to the top lest the entire structure topple. In fact, in my experience, tower building is one of the few collaborative lego projects that kids discover on their own.
April 2nd, 2007 9:24pm
Collaborative? Don't you have one of them pushing all the others back, saying, "Don't touch it! Don't touch it! You'll make it fall!"?
April 2nd, 2007 9:27pm
Semi-Collaborative? Put it this way, it is one of a very small number of lego structures regularly built that more than 1 kid voluntarily adds multiple pieces to.
Of course you are right, there is always a chief engineer. Also, only what the article would call "socially powerful older kids" are allowed to add blocks during the risky late stages. And the tower builders often exercise eminent domain claims against the blocks of "socially weak younger kids." Oh, and, tower toppling terrorists have been a presence in pre-schools all across the country long before they burst on the national scene. Would it help shape homeland defense if people knew that the tower topplers are usually disgruntled tower builders? It's very rare that a connect-four kid interupts his game and comes across the room to violently express his hatred of the values of tower building.
April 2nd, 2007 9:47pm
"Hilltop is located in an affluent Seattle neighborhood, and, with only a few exceptions, the staff and families are white; the families are upper-middle class"
What, capitalist children *acting* like capitalist children? Say it ain't so!
> human societies will not spontaneously develop laws for sharing and equal distribution of wealth either.
There's a Hobbesian in the house!
April 2nd, 2007 10:57pm
My son turns everything he pick up into a gun
April 3rd, 2007 7:03am
I can't get this image of Winston fumbling with a few lego bricks in his pocket, trying to hide the action from the metallic panel on the wall.
April 3rd, 2007 10:01am
I think the teachers will behave exactly like the children when they have power.
Wait ... I think they already do!
April 3rd, 2007 2:07pm