Lego Serious Play for Education - by David Gauntlett

Teacher Paula White has written in her blog Amplifying Minds how she regularly uses Lego Serious Play in her classroom.

Hasn’t everyone played with Legos at some point? Well, the answer to that is no … of course. But it surprises me when I pull out lego bricks in my classroom and boys say they haven’t. I know, that’s sexist, but it still surprises me. I also am pleasantly surprised when girls say things like, “I LOVE Legos!” I know that’s sexist, but I do hope the fact I am using them with both genders will help kids not do as I do when they get older.

About 10 years ago, I was trained as a Lego Serious Play facilitator. What that means is I got to play with Lego figures and bricks as an expert led a bunch of us through some play work that really heightened our own sense of what it is we were thinking and feeling, and we discovered many things about ourselves, our teams, our beliefs and our questions. It’s an amazing process, and one I use periodically in my classroom. It’s one of those tools that just scaffolds some kids to talk and share things they otherwise might not have…but the fact that they are talking through metaphors or some model, or something they build, they more openly share their thinking. They are thinking while building, and sometimes their hands take over the thinking–and build a connection that might not have been conscious at the time of building.

So, as part of the application to become certified as a National Board Certified teacher, I used that technique when I was videotaping myself. I was targeting one child for my analysis, but the other one garnered my attention when something she said went against everything I thought I knew about this kid! Turns out there is a side of this incredibly confident, happy-go-lucky, talented, smart kid that is not so confident or happy-go-lucky. I had no clue, and would probably never have found out had I not used a non-traditional tool/task with her. Now, I’m trying to figure out how to help others see what I know, so we can provide the support this kid needs to flourish and grow.

BUT, one of the cool parts of being videotaped, is that right after the lesson, I sat down with the person running the camera and asked for feedback, what I could have done differently, how she saw the lesson and responses, and I got immediate questions to reflect upon, comments to think about and some criticism and kudos to consider. Good teachers seek that feedback…and know it needs to be specific to be helpful. Lego Serious Play provides that feedback immediately and it also opens up whole other avenues of thinking to go down. Every teacher needs to experience it–and use it.


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