International School of Billund
Because of the growing population in and around Billund, the Lego Group’s home, Lego is supporting the establishment of the International School of Billund whose curriculum is concurrent with Danish education law and based on learning through play. The school began with a kindergarten and will continue to incorporate programs and learning opportunities for children through age sixteen—the counterpart to the American senior in high school. It has plans for a baccalaureate program as well.
The Lego Group already contributes learning studios to current Billund schools, but together with Billund municipality, the company has a vision to make Billund the Capital of Children. But what do a bunch of blocks, often the nemesis of a parent’s nighttime prowl to the bathroom, have to do with education?
Learning through play
Lego is a combination of Danish words “leg” and “godt” meaning “to play,” and the foundation’s products, all the way back to the original Lego block, are based on just that—learning through play. This theory is certainly synonymous with American kindergarten and early childhood education, but as soon as a child hits upper elementary, American’s take a vicious turn toward “growing up.”
Our education system turns to pencil, paper, lecture, and testing in an attempt to produce real world ready children. But is this really what the real world is about?
There is a monster in American schools presently called Common Core. Gasp! Hiss! Booo! Formerly, educators were to test and measure based on Pass Objectives, but a movement from corporate America has made these old standards old news.
Corporate America, the recipient of the product of the American Education system, hasn’t been happy with what it’s getting. Entry level workers, college educated or not, are quite adequate at regurgitating pencil to paper knowledge but authentically applying skills has long been an issue.
Authentic learning creates better employees
In the late nineties, the term authentic learning was the buzz, and continued research emerged with the now implemented Common Core Curriculum. Common Core is about applying knowledge. It involves more writing, less memorizing. More authentic application to real world, less regurgitating theories and equations.
Essentially, this is the Lego Group’s M.O. We learn most effectively through doing. We call what children do “play;” we call what adults do “work.”
The International School of Billund is only seeking to authentically educate children in a way that helps them grow to love their work, and once Americans take to Common Core, which is currently being rabidly fought by most educators, we will essentially be on the same track.
The only difference, a politically huge difference and a hurdle Americans aren’t ready to think about much less embrace, is that Danish education is free and encouraged to all children and adults at all levels for all reasons. Sigh. Another discussion. Another day.