I believe that this article is very interesting and correct. This article encompasses my whole Lego mindset as-well as everything I believe MOCpages represents.
By Steve Vassallo. "When I was 10 years old, I built a monster truck out of Legos. It had a four-speed transmission and fully working transfer case, so you could switch from two- to four-wheel drive. It had articulating suspension and steering, a snowplow, and a winch. It even had working headlights. All this meant two things were inevitable: that it would be a long while before my first kiss, and that I would one day become an engineer.
Lego, loosely translated, means “to put together” in Latin. But “to put together” doesn’t fully encompass the value – and purpose – of those buckets of colorful bricks. Legos are about putting together, then taking apart, then reassembling in new ways. That’s why I got so upset recently when a friend told me that she and her daughter had built a pirate ship out of Legos, arranged the pieces until they were just right, and then glued the whole thing together. That, I exclaimed, is not the point.
Legos unleashed my creativity when I was growing up. They drew out the part of me that had to know what things looked like from the inside out, how they worked, how they might work better. The hours I spent with them — sprawled on the floor, building and rebuilding, puzzling and visualizing — became my first lessons in engineering. There was magic in those little bricks. There still is.
Since that time, Legos have changed. Instead of all-purpose boxes of bricks, with no rules or instruction manuals, the company now sells Star Wars Legos and Harry Potter Legos, complete with step-by-step instructions and stated objectives. Follow these steps to build a Jedi Starfighter or Hogwarts Castle; when you’re done, your creation should look just like the picture on the box. These Legos require a level of precision, and a measure of patience. But no longer are they about imagination; instead, the point is replication. In an essay in his wonderful collection, Manhood for Amateurs, Michael Chabon described the transformation like this: “Where Lego-building had once been open-ended and exploratory, it now [has] far more in common with puzzle-solving, a process of moving incrementally toward an ideal, pre-established, and above all, a provided solution.”
It’s not hard to understand why it all happened this way. At the beginning of the last decade, Lego almost went out of business. A deal with LucasFilm to create a Star Wars product line turned everything around. In the midst of the recession, when other toy companies saw declining sales, Lego sales rose almost 19 percent. Today, more than a quarter of their worldwide retail sales come from these licensed products. My 10-year-old self might have advised against the deal. The businessman I’ve become understands its necessity.
Still, we lose something when the nondescript buckets of freeform Lego bricks are moved to the back of the toy store, while the highly specialized Disney sets fly off the shelves. We lose that chance to inspire a future engineer, the one who will grow up to revolutionize solar power, or make the iPhone as obsolete as Steve Jobs made the Discman. This isn’t just about Lego bricks and Star Wars kits; it isn’t just about playthings. It’s about the way we prioritize and encourage creativity in society. Which is to say that we don’t do it nearly enough.
At a time when our economy depends increasingly on the ingenuity of scientists and engineers – and at a time when both are in perilously short supply – we need to remember that there is more to cultivating innovation than adding more advanced placement classes in physics and chemistry. Math and science education are critical, of course; but as building blocks, they are insufficient. What we need, above all, is the spark of imagination. The passion for tinkering. The hunger for exploration. The realization, even at age 10, that you can create real, tangible things if you think about it long enough, and work at it hard enough. Albert Einstein once said that he was “enough of an artist to draw freely on [his] imagination” which he valued even above knowledge. “Knowledge is limited,” he explained. “Imagination encircles the world.”
At the most basic level, Legos – the classic, old-fashioned kind – are about possibility and creative thinking-in-action: the idea that the only limitations on what you can create are the boundaries of your mind (and, perhaps, the number of Lego bricks at your disposal).
Sometimes it seems to me that, beneath all the worry about STEM – science, technology, electronics and mathematics – education and funding and our global competitiveness, there’s a sense that we’re fast approaching our limit as an “innovation nation”—or worse, that we’re already there. In new product development where I began my career, we emphasize “design thinking,” the idea that when you have a problem to address, you start, first, by imagining its solution. That kind of thinking requires a belief in possibility, and the idea that our future is what we choose to make of it. Too much of that is missing right now. But it can be found again.
My advice in all of this is not to throw out your Legos altogether, or to refuse to buy the licensed set your child is clamoring for. It’s still a great product, as my own children will attest. But when you get home from the toy store, throw out the instructions. Your children won’t be able to replicate the Star Wars space ship. But, without a roadmap, they may find a way to build a better one." Article ends
Steve Vassallo needs to be backhanded for his arrogant, wrong, and elitist statement. He also misses the point of what LEGO is all about, as did the other guy that was in the article. If the new licensed LEGO sets actually mean anything, then they all mean that more modern LEGO sets give us, gasp, MORE, and not LESS, ways to utilize our imaginations as well as to expand on the ways that LEGO can be built. Granted, some specialty pieces CAN be a bit tricky and/or difficult to make into versatile building elements, but that is why YAHWEH ELOHIM (God) gave people the concepts of imagination, a brain, and the proper ability to use both of them simultaneously when it comes to many things, including building LEGO structures, as well as for allowing people to make various LEGO elements to even make this possible in the first place. Now while I would have also been likewise mortified about LEGO pieces being glued together, I do not believe that this person has the right to tell people that we have lost our way when it comes to imaginations. Star Wars and other licensed LEGO theme sets have rich literary backgrounds and they also come from other literary sources, so to say that they do not encourage the concept of imagination is downright dishonest and facetious, if not flat out arrogant and just plain wrong. Finally, to make a LEGO structure out of just plain old-fashioned bricks is completely contrary to the concept of allowing people that want to build with LEGO to properly utilize their imaginations and if people disagree with that, such as the two people that are mentioned in the article, then they are disingenuous, dishonest, disrespectful, judgmental, immature, narrow-minded, small-minded, closed-minded, intolerant, short-sighted, and elitist people that honestly are like a form of cancer upon the LEGO community at large. If people are offended by my words, then they should come down on the people of this article even more so than myself for sullying the whole point of LEGO and its concept of imagination.
Quoting Jon Treasure
great article! I kinda feel this is me-> "it would be a long while before my first kiss, and that I would one day become an engineer"
I think I was searching for inspiration for a 4wd transfer case when I found it, I read the article and thought it was brilliant. I feel the same way, it's no help when you're home schooled and live 50 miles from the nearest town.