Forget global terrorism, Trump winning the Republican nomination and rapidly accelerating climate change (although I personally am enjoying our warm spell this week). What is apparently the biggest threat to future? Lego. That innocent, much-loved Danish toy company, sparking imaginations worldwide for decades has only gone and “ruined the world” for the youth of today. Why? Because they have “cheated youngsters and their parents out of any chance to be truly creative,” said the outraged former Lego builder and parent-of-two Ben Fogle, speaking at the Boarding School Association conference in Manchester yesterday.
Ben is very cross because in his opinion Lego has become “a rigid and box-ticking discipline” thanks to the popular kit-based products, where children are no longer able to enjoy plastic bricks in their plain and simple glory. “One misaligned or one tiny lost component can spell disaster. I’ve watched my son fall apart because it didn’t work,” Ben explained. While I feel his pain and have seen many a similar episode in my home, searching for that missing piece a bit harder (because we have NEVER not had all the pieces from a Lego kit, and I’ll happily swear on oath to that; it’s the extra bits afterwards that worry me more and need to be swept under the sofa on completion) or going back over the steps to check you’ve not used it elsewhere develops tenacity and perseverance. So whilst building from a kit may not be as creative as free play, it can foster other character traits your child can be proud of. What’s the harm in giving kids a worthy goal or inspiration to get started? The only stress is when a parent voices concern that the end result isn’t the same as the picture on the box. What hung-up grown-up would do that? (I’m looking at you Ben Fogle.)
Lego was, is and will remain the most unisex, ageless toy in the world
Lego’s partnerships have enabled children to build Star Wars spaceships, Hobbit worlds and Frozen palaces that wouldn’t have existed in playrooms before. Once built, the construction is played with, admired, then shortly after damaged and swiftly relegated to the big box with all the bricks, levers, hinges, windows and wheels from all the other kits which have broken up and then… creativity kicks in! But it’s even better than before because now the kids have learnt to use these intricately designed cogs and whatnots they can go places the standard primary-coloured bricks couldn’t have taken them before.
Lego was, is and will remain the most unisex, ageless toy in the world. It was voted the top toy of all time by Britain’s leading independent toy makers last year. You don’t need to build to the instructions (by the way, if you’ve lost any, they’re ALL on the Lego website), but if you and your children choose to, it won’t ruin their childhood. It’ll help them understand that sometimes you need to follow instructions to get what you want – and sometimes you can rip up the rule book and do it your way.
I rest my case.