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Making across the lifecourse

In this video, Dr Alison Buxton interviews Ollie Bray, Global Director for Connecting Play and Education at the LEGO Foundation.
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I’m here today with Ollie Bray from the LEGO Foundation at the FIRST offices in Manchester in the US. And FIRST partner with LEGO Education to do the most amazing FIRST LEGO League, that operates in libraries and schools all over the world, a really amazing programme. And so we’re really excited to be able to talk to you, Ollie, all about creativity, and playfulness, and loads of things. A good place to start would maybe be to think a little bit about how we define creativity. We would kind of say that creativity is an iterative process. And as part of that iterative process, then children and young people would be connecting ideas, and they would be exploring new ideas.
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And they would be taking things and they would be transforming these things into other things. But also within the LEGO Foundation, we take a view that, in terms of creativity, it’s a very, very personal thing. So you create things that have got meaning to you personally and not necessarily meaning to other people. And that’s maybe where we would make the distinction between creativity and innovation, because quite often in the world of innovation, you’ll be making something that was important to other people as well. All of the research would show that human beings have got the greatest capacity to learn really within the first 1,000 days of their lives.
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And if you think about that, not that I necessarily remember the first 1,000 days of my life, but that was the time when I really started to listen deeply, to be able to see, to be able to verbalise, to be able to explore new things. And that’s often one of the reasons why when we talk about early childhood development that we think those first 1,000 days in terms of the early childhood stimulation, the brain development are really, really important as well. And it’s those early beginnings that really, I think, sets the foundation for what happens next in children’s development. Whether that’s creativity or whether that’s other holistic skills as well. There is a difference between creativity and imagination.
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And I like to sometimes try and explain that to teachers by giving an example. When I was young, I used to have a tree house that I built with my granddad. And I had great plans for this tree house. It would have a fireman’s pole, and zip wire, and electricity, and a hot tub. And some people might have said, “Well, you got a really creative mind there, Ollie.” But actually, I didn’t have a creative mind. What I did is I had a great sense of imagination.
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And if we think about creativity now, and what we think about creativity, I think a lot of the more modern research that I subscribe to is really about if we really want to develop creativity in young people, we need that combination of basically realism and also imagination that come together. A child can often come up with a lot of very, very original ideas. Quite often if we think about the domain of the adult, or domain of an older child, sometimes they might come up with a bit more appropriate ideas. But actually, if we really want the creative process to take place, it’s about combining this originality with this appropriateness for them to come together.
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So if we think about that, and if we think about schools, and libraries, and indeed makerspaces, where we have access to all of these materials as well. The most creative work happens, I think, when children and adults come together to learn together and to create new things together. And I was very, very careful as I said that to really use the word to learn together. Because there’s a lot of adults, teachers are a classic example of this, who will say that they learn a lot from the children. But that’s different to learning together with children to create new things.
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So for me, the really powerful example and the challenge that I often - the provocation I often give the teachers is - when was the last time you actually learnt with your children on something new, as you’re building something new and making that together? And that’s the real power of a makerspace or an environment like that. And I think it’s really important as well for people who are starting out on to makerspace journey, quite a lot of the fear is, I’m not an expert in this. How can I teach something that I’m - and actually, learning together, I think, is a fantastic approach. Letting go of having to be the teacher.
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And if you become the facilitator, where you can make things happen, but essentially you’re learning together. You’re learning how to, whether it’s doing a FIRST LEGO League competition, or whether you’re learning how to 3D print something, or to make something out of cardboard, or to use new tools. Essentially, you can go on that journey together. And it’s really exciting. I think what you get from these environments is you get a wide range of skills. Now whether you want to call those transferable skills, or 21st century skills, or holistic skills, I think sometimes we get far too bogged down with the types of skills.
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But these are just skills that are just genuinely useful in society, in terms of what we do for employment but also by being good human beings.

In this video, Alison travels to New Hampshire to meet with Ollie Bray, Global Director for Connecting Play and Education at the LEGO Foundation to discuss creativity across the lifecourse.

They discuss how imagination and creativity differs between adults and children and the best ways to bring innovation out of an individual, no matter their age.

How might you facilitate intergenerational learning in your setting?

Please note, there is the sound of an air conditioner between 02.18 and 03.03. If you have trouble hearing the conversation then we advise turning on the subtitles.

We would like to thank Jacob Komar and Betsy Daniels at First for their assistance in producing this video.

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