- For articles about LEGO towns and cities see: LEGO geography.
Legotown was name given to a construction by some students in an after-school program at Hilltop Children's Center, a child care program in Seattle. It came to international attention after teachers decided to remove the LEGO from the classroom and use it as a learning experience with a heavily anti-capitalist theme.
|A group of about eight children conceived and launched Legotown. Other children were eager to join the project, but as the city grew — and space and raw materials became more precious — the builders began excluding other children.|
After two months of observation the teachers removed the LEGO from the center and began to explore issues of ownership and power with the students who ranged in age from five to nine years old.
The teachers stated objectives included, "an evaluation of... the inequities of private ownership and hierarchical authority on which it was founded." They also wanted, "to promote a contrasting set of values: collectivity, collaboration, resource-sharing, and full democratic participation."
After five months of programming including discussions, games and drawing exercises designed to explore the issues the LEGO was returned to the classroom in a controlled manner beginning with a collaborative project to build Pike Place Market.
The teachers seem to have met their objective as the students came to what the teachers called three core agreements:
After the story was picked up by mainstream media2 conservative organizations3 and bloggers4 were outraged at what they saw as an attempt to push a political agenda in opposition to free-market ideologies on small children.
While long-term results of the experiment may never be known5 there was a lot of publicity generated by the use of LEGO in this manner. As well, the utility of LEGO as a learning and teaching tool beyond simple construction techniques was also demonstrated.
1 - Why We Banned Legos by Ann Pelo and Kendra Pelojoaquin, Published in Volume 21, No, 2(Winter 2006/2007) edition of Rethinking Schools Online.
2 - ie: Toronto Star (Toronto, ON, Canada); Shelbyville Times-Gazette (Shelbyville, TN, USA), Daily Targum (Rutgers University, NJ)
3 - ie: National Review and Heartland Institute
4 - ie: How Schoolteachers Reprogram Budding Capitalists.
5 - There is no indication if Rethinking Schools or the authors intend to follow the careers of the children involved or to replicate the experiment with other children.