John J. Miller writes about Hilltop Children’s Center in Seattle, where two teachers banned the popular children’s toy Legos. Well, actually Legos were banned and then reintroduced. The explanation is really best left to the “experts”–the teachers. In an article published in Rethinking Schools, they explain it has to do with “social justice learning”. It has been a while since I was in elementary school, but I don’t remember social justice learning as part of my curriculum. John, goes on to write:
In their Rethinking Schools article, teachers Ann Pelo and Kendra Pelojoaquin describe how the kids at Hilltop built a massive series of Lego structures we named Legotown. I sensed that something was rotten in the state of Legotown when I read this description of it: a collection of homes, shops, public facilities, and community meeting places.
My children have spent a large portion of their young lives playing with Legos. They have never, to my knowledge, constructed community meeting places. Instead, they make monster trucks, space ships, and war machines. These little creations are usually loaded with ion guns, nuclear missiles, bunker-busting bombs, force-field projectors, and death-ray cannons. Alien empires have risen and fallen in epic conflicts waged in the upstairs bedrooms of my home.
Same in my home. I regularly see airplanes, tanks, building and guns, but never once have my children built a community meeting place. Of course, we do live on the “Eastside” so for my children a community meeting place is not a place to get together to protest “Bush’s illegal” war, rally against global warming, or the latest misguided liberal cause. No, for them it would be going to Bellevue Square Mall or to Marymoor park to walk our dog Diego.
The teachers go on,
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.
Pelo and Pelojoaquin continue: As we watched the children build, we became increasingly concerned.
So they banned the Legos and began their program of re-education. Our intention was to promote a contrasting set of values: collectivity, collaboration, resource-sharing, and full democratic participation, they write.
Wow! What can I say? Could we be reading too much into playtime? Of course for these two, they recognized their chance to mold pliable little minds.
Finally, the kids got their Legos back.
After months of social justice exploration, the teachers finally agreed it was time to return the Legos to the classroom. That’s because the children at last had bought into the concept that collectivity is a good thing.
Collectivity, collectivity?? Communism is what we used to call it. There is much more to this story in the National Review article. A friend of mine and I were discussing this story and he reminded me these children are our future leaders. Leaders we will have to depend on as we grow older. Heaven help us all.