Legos — They’re What’s for Creativity

This castle was an important part of my childhood.

Perhaps you remember this lego set; perhaps you don’t. I remember it well. I owned it. I must have built and rebuilt this castle time and time again, at least a dozen times I’d guess, and in all different styles. Googling this picture makes me feel nostalgic. I’m 29, and I’m having an urge to play with Legos…

I work in education, a field which, if you’re paying any attention, is somewhat politically contentious. Okay, very politically contentious. But you know what’s not contentious? Legos. Legos are not contentious.

Legos are also not the cures to what ails America’s schools, but they are emblematic of at least part of the solution. I loved Legos as a child. I had all sorts of them: castles; ships; forts. Inevitably I would build a set initially by following the instructions only to take it apart and do it all over again in my own fashion. Repeat. At one point I covered an entire table with a panoramic ocean scene complete with multiple ships, fortresses, and jungle islands. I distinctly remember detaching one Lego man’s legs from his torso. The former, I stuck in the mouth of a shark, and the latter I snapped to a blue foundation of water, and thus one Lego pirate became two, each suffering a different pirate fate.

My parents extrapolated from all my miniature construction endeavors that I might end up an architect, and consequently bought me more toys that allowed me to create, disassemble, and repeat. I’ve already told you I work in education, so you know that whole architect idea didn’t pan out, but Legos were still probably one of the best investments my parents made in my future.

It doesn’t matter what a child will do with his or her life, the importance of creative exercise at a young age is paramount to intellectual development. I didn’t become an architect, but I still got to explore, build, create, and problem-solve. I got to exercise a skill set that was destined to serve me well down the road no matter what type of career I pursue as an adult. It serves me well as an educator, just as it would have as an architect, and just as it would were I to transition to another field. Creativity has been valued since the beginning of civilization, but in a 21st century economy creativity is almost a necessity.

If you put the means to create in front of children, they will create. It might not be the world’s best product, but it doesn’t need to be. My parents like joking with me about the wheeled-castles I built out of the larger Duplo blocks as a two-year old. Ga-ga castles I called them. I was eloquent at age two. Needless to say my ga-ga castles didn’t stick, but the curiosity and creativity they inspired did. That manifests differently now; my ga-ga castle building days are well behind me, but these words are proof of their legacy.

Legos were such an important part of my childhood because they allowed me to have fun while exercising my brain. I didn’t even know it was happening, like I had somehow been tricked into eating the broccoli but it tasted like ice cream. Not every kid needs Legos, but every kid needs to explore and create. Every kid needs what Legos gave me.