I facilitated a two-hour LEGO workshop with five colleagues last Friday. It was on “Using LEGO to model teaching and learning beliefs and practices.” This session employed some of the principles of the LEGO Serious Play methodology and the aim was to get participants to think with their hands by building LEGO models.
David Gauntlett was at the University of Huddersfield a few weeks ago to facilitate a two-day LEGO workshop which I attended. This workshop was great preparation for designing and facilitating my own LEGO workshop. I had read a lot about the LEGO Serious Play (LSP) methodology but it was helpful to participate in a LEGO workshop facilitated by a LEGO expert.
I did a short presentation at the start of my workshop to explain the LEGO workshop process. I told the participants that I was going to give them several challenges (activities/tasks) to construct during the workshop. They had to use the bricks in their LEGO starter kit to build models that addressed these challenges. All of these challenges were timed and they ranged from 5-7 mins for the simple challenges to 10-12 mins for the complicated ones. Each participant had to share a story about his/her LEGO model with the group. I also asked some probing/clarifying questions about each participant’s model in order to get them to reflect on their models.
These were the challenges the participants had to do during the two-hour workshop:
C1: Build an animal using 15 LEGO bricks or less.
C2: Add something to that animal (using an additional 10 bricks) that says something about you.
C3: Build a LEGO model that represents/captures your teaching philosophy.
C4: Build a LEGO model that represents what inspirational teaching is.
LEGO bricks enable you to visualise thoughts, ideas and reflections using metaphors and storytelling (Nerantzi & Despard, 2014). It is the job of the facilitator to help participants think and build metaphorically. I spent time during the introductory presentation defining a metaphor and providing examples of metaphors. I also referred to George Lakoff and Mark Johnson’s seminal book “Metaphors we live by” in my presentation. The book’s main premise is that a metaphor is not just a literary short cut or figure of speech but rather a cognitive or conceptual tool by which we make sense of the world.
Here are some of the feedback from the LEGO workshop participants about the session:
“It was a very good session, I really enjoyed it. It was fascinating to see what can out of the activities in terms of lego models I produced and the narrative they helped to elucidate.”
“Really enjoyed it. Was pleasantly surprised about the discussions that took place as a result of our models. Thought the idea of using just a few of the lego pieces was good. Liked the idea it started off with you and then branched out.”
“Outstanding session I have nothing but positive things to say.”
I am going to facilitate another LEGO workshop at the Teaching and Learning Festival in June which 8 colleagues have booked to attend. There are plans to do more LEGO workshops in the 2015/16 academic year.
* Blog post by Olaojo Aiyegbayo