Winston Churchill is once believed to have said, “I am always ready to learn although I do not always like being taught”.
Many of us could echo this comment, to have knowledge brings innumerous benefits and opportunities but the acquiring of that knowledge can often be a long, arduous process. It doesn’t take libraries full of research to come to the conclusion that individuals benefit more and apply themselves greater when they enjoy the task in hand. This sentiment is true about many aspects of life, in fact Confucius said “choose a job you love and you’ll never have to work a day in your life” can this same principle be applied to learning and if so how?
In the 21st century, despite political agendas and the debates on the effectiveness of the latest rating systems the focus of education and the educators has shifted to find ways of teaching and inspiring students in ways that will leave them engaged and inspired. Twenty first century learning is about providing children with opportunities to experiment with their surroundings as a form of problem solving. The ethos of LEGO® Education is “about creativity and collaboration, motivation and self-direction. It is about improvisation and discovery, and interacting with meaningful tools that expand mental capacities.”
And whilst new technology; computers, digital information and online communication, are helping to expand the way we acquire and use knowledge, this too is paving the way for more dynamic and effective teaching and learning experiences.
The Eden Education Centre is at the very forefront of this ethos. As partners with LEGO® Education providing South Wales’ first LEGO® Education Innovation Studio the vision is to give students opportunities to create collaboratively, engage in learning and inspire them for the future. This is done using the universal language of the LEGO® block and LEGO® Education software, teaching them not only the basics of building and refining motor skills but the workshops improve their ability to take measurements, make predications and observations, recording outcomes and data logging through to complex robot building and in-depth engineering and programming.
This isn’t just about using new technology; it is the realisation that these technologies have brought easy access to knowledge and greater opportunities for collaboration and creativity. As James Paul Gee emphasises in ‘Learning Games’, technology eases information sharing, co-creation and the crossing of new and more distant borders, not just geographically, but also between physical and digital realms. Digital interfaces give us new ways to express ourselves, new ways to research ideas, new ways to experiment. They allow us to take risks safely, to make and remake, to repurpose, recycle and trade in ways we could barely have imagined just a few decades ago.
These developments and opportunities are changing the way teaching and childcare professionals view their roles. As one newly qualified teacher said: “I was looking at all these tools and thinking, ‘How can I get good at using them in order to teach?’ But then I realised that what I needed to do was to give them to the children and let them learn by using them”. The 'hands-on, minds-on' ethos of LEGO® Education is the key to getting students to create, engage and be inspired.