Learning From The Lego Story

One of the favorite toys around my house is Lego bricks. We are pretty big Lego fans. My wife and I have been to the Carlsbad to visit Legoland twice. We even took the kids with us once. 🙂 For our vacation this summer we only made a quick trip to Atlanta, but our first stop after dropping our bags at the hotel was the Lego Discovery Center. And we stayed until it closed.  It’s funny. The boys and I hate going to a mall, but as long as there’s a Lego Store it’s all good. So, you can imagine my excitement when I came across a post on GeekDad about Lego’s 80th birthday. The best part of the post is “The Lego Story” animated short. If the history of Lego intrigues you at all, I highly recommend you take the time to watch the video. It is seventeen minutes long, but it’s well done and worth watching.

As a teacher and dad, I found the following important ideas in the video that I think warrant consideration:

  1. Resilience – The Kristiansen family faced numerous obstacles on the way to building the Lego company, yet they never stopped bouncing back from the setbacks. They were resilient people. Certainly, there were times when they were down, but they never considered themselves out. They didn’t quit. When their original wholesaler went bankrupt, Lego founder Ole Kristiansen didn’t give up; instead, he decided to take it upon himself to sell his toys. When the company workshop burned down, Ole’s responsibility to his family and employees inspired to rebuild the company and fight their way back into the market. We, too, mustn’t let disappointments force us to quit. We must press on and view problems as hurdles to overcome rather than permanent barriers to achieving our goals.
  2. Risk-taking – Innovations occurred because the Kristiansen’s took risks. Ole purchased a plastic moulding machine even though it was expensive and their previous toys were all wood constructions. Godtfred Kristiansen, Ole’s son, took a chance by adding system to the Lego bricks allowing children to build toys for themselves. The system of play became so popular that Lego was able to sell the toys outside Denmark. Additionally, he took a risk to build an airport and eventually decided to go all out and build a whole Legoland, which welcomed 600,000 guests its first year. Growth requires risk-taking. We mustn’t rest on our laurels or become complacent and satisfied with things as they are. We must venture into new areas and take chances if we want to develop and mature.
  3. Embrace the E’s – Kjeld, Ole’s grandson, is now the vice chairman of the board at Lego, and I love the vision he (via his animated self) shares at the end of the video. It’s one we should embrace as parents and educators, as well. He seeks to encourage children to “explore, experience, and express their own world–a world without limits, and we are still convinced that only the best is good enough (excellence) because children deserve the best.” Isn’t that what we want for our children and their learning? If we are “educating for the unknown,” as David Perkins suggests we should, I cannot imagine a better preparation than for students to explore their world, to experience humanity, to express their understanding, and to do it with excellence.

What do you think? What jumped out to you about the Lego story? How do we help our children become resilient risk-takers? What do you think we’d be missing if we educated for the 4 E’s? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

2 thoughts on “Learning From The Lego Story”

  1. Thank you for posting “The Lego Story”. It caught my attention and I thought what a wonderful story to engage my students and families when discussing goal setting. Your question, “How do we help our children become resilient risk-takers?” is interesting. I think we need to guide families toward adopting a philosophy of parenting that encompasses the 4 E’s. In my opinion, too many parents overlook or are unaware of the process that leads to excellence. As educators, we need to encourage parents to allow their children to explore their own interests and experience the journey complete with obstacles and detours. Excellence is a result of hard work, overcoming adversity, and perseverance. Many believe that “good enough” is ‘excellent’. Many have difficulty allowing their children to experience or struggle with obstacles or adversity and intervene too quickly. Many are unable to trust their children’s abilities to complete projects or assignments independently. Families need to know that it is okay to stumble, cry over feelings of disappointment, or not reach a goal at each attempt. It is through these struggles that growth, – intellectual, emotional, and social – can occur, allowing their children to become the adults they are meant to become. When parents intervene and prevent their children from experiencing adversity, they are interfering with an opportunity for growth, which inadvertently stunts their children’s overall development.
    So, with your permission, I would like to share “The Lego Story” with my students and families as we begin a new school year exploring our world, experiencing both the classroom and real-life lessons, expressing our individual understanding of the lessons, and accepting nothing less than we all deserve – excellence.

    1. Sue – Thank you so much for reading and for the thoughtful comment. Please feel free to share any of these ideas. I think you make a good point that we need to be intentional about talking with parents as well as students about the process that leads to success. Have you read Mindset by Carol Dweck? I think we really need to discuss the growth vs. fixed mindset research with both parents and students, and I agree that families need to not only realize it’s okay to struggle but also that it’s actually desirable in order to really excel. Thanks again for taking the time to chime in.

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