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Article excerpt by Natahn Whittemore

reposted from http://www.good.is/post/if-schools-kill-creativity-can-toys-bring-it-back-to-life/

“Legos are one of the most popular toys of all time. According to TED Fellow Ayah Bdeir, who delivered a speech at the famed conference in Long Beach, California this week, there are more than 400 billion of the little blocks in the world, or 75 for every person on earth. The brilliance of Legos is that they are not a single toy, but a platform for creation with nearly endless possibilities, making them one of the best teaching tools ever.

In an education world obsessed with curriculum standards and high-stakes testing, students are funneled onto particular tracks, rather than being allowed to choose their own adventures and explore their passions (a phenomenon that education expert Sir Ken Robinson says is killing creativity)  But if the contemporary education model discourages kids’ curiosity and creativity, a new generation of companies are finding ways to emulate Lego and encourage those traits through play.

Like Legos, littleBits and MakerBot replicators can be educational, but they’re fundamentally about playing. Play is about active engagement and experimentation with the world in a situation in which there is no clear “right” or “wrong,” but a set of possibilities. It’s a process of learning-by-doing driven not by an externally defined outcome, but about personal instinct, passion, and goal-setting. 

It is not just children that need this type of play—they tend to do it without being told. Adults, on the other hand, inhabit a world in which “success” tends to have little to do with creative experimentation. This new infrastructure of play is not just a collection of interesting startups, but a broad entrepreneurial movement with the potential to restore the creativity that’s been lost in too many schools.

an excerpt from icograda’s design education manifesto, pg 32

” The reef was Eau’s favourite place, and Lark’s too. It contained a huge library and food for every cartilaginous soul — the reef was indeed a storage bank of resources. When Lark the shark appeared from behind the reef, Eau the octopus looked up joyfully. “I want to be a designer,” said Lark shyly to Eau with a sparkle in his eyes that his bashfulness could not hide. “Why?” Eau was tempted to ask. Instead he said, “Let me tell you a story. A few weeks ago, a close crustacean friend was telling me that his one-year old shrimp has discovered how to make her own bubbles. She was screaming with delight, revelling in her new-found ability and experimenting with it. Do you make bubbles?” he asked Lark. Lark was stunned. When was the last time he had made bubbles? “The lesson behind this story,” said Eau, “is that the early years are the best years for education, simply because the youth have the freedom to experiment without any, or with limited, adult interference. It could be with a piece of seaweed in their mouths or simply breaking a shell, they experiment unconsciously with everything around them and the sensations produced. The moment you step into school these responses are conditioned. Teachers force things onto you; learning has been structured for you. You stop experiencing through experimentation, and start learning to count on others.”

…………………………………..

“Things are simple, but we have acquired the tendency to make them complicated. We forget the simple pleasures of life and look for ephemeral things that bring us nothing in terms of growth and learning. We have our big dreams, going about destroying everything that the ocean provides us and then saying, ‘we have to be sustainable.’ Our grandparents were much more sustainable because they followed the ocean’s laws. Life is all around us and is the best teacher. Life makes us understand who we are and who we want to be. The best education can do is show you the path. Life! Observe it, learn from it. Now go be who you are destined to be,” said Eau.

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The moral of the story

Design needs to move down to the level of high schools. Design methodology and processes should be at the core of high school education systems in order to allow creative minds to bloom and to produce researchers, analytical minds and sustainable thinkers. Life is design and that is something we cannot ignore no matter how hard we try… the water returns to the source and the environment always prevails.

http://toolkit.icograda.org/database/rte/files/PR_IEN_Manifesto2011_webres.pdf

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An article, lamenting the fact that  only one in five children can tie a reef knot or repair a flat bike tyre. According to a survey that reveals how practical skills dying out among the young.

Bear Grylls, the survival expert who is also Chief Scout, said: “Practical skills are at the heart of scouting.

“From first aid to cooking a meal, we encourage all young people to learn skills they can use in life. While learning together, girls and boys grow in confidence and self-esteem.

“Having these skills helps them prepare for whatever life throws at them, enabling them to become active and responsible citizens who are willing to take a lead.”

Susanna Dinnage, from Discovery Networks UK, said: “Children display a lot of aptitude for embracing new technology but practical skills have lost some of their popularity. We would like to see a revival of these crafts.”