Wheaton Montessori News
From Mrs. Mayhugh
I’ll be the first to admit: I’m not a big Lego fan. I’ve stepped on one-too-many in the middle of the night. The sound of a mass dump-out of Lego pieces makes me cringe. My husband loves building enormous Lego contraptions with our children. Me? Not so much. I’d rather be tortured by watching “Caillou” than sit on the floor and play Legos.
But my children LOVE them. They love creating, building, imagining, and engineering with them. I want THEM to love playing with Lego blocks, build skyscrapers, rocket ships, horse stables, and incredibly-detailed catamarans complete with Lego popsicles. Which is why I sign my kids up for Lego League every time it’s offered.
I sign them up because I want them to have the afternoon play time with like-minded friends. I sign them up because I want them to be comfortable around the Junior High students and be able to talk with children, adolescents, and adults with respect and ease. And I sign them up because I will gladly pay someone to play Legos with my kids. There – I said it.
I get quite a bit of value out of the Lego League offering. My children get to do something they love with their friends from school. I have the peace of mind knowing that they’re happy and engaged.
I asked John-Marc Bilezikian, the Junior High Director, what his students “get out of Lego League” each week as they’re supervising, directing, and playing with the younger primary students. His answer was completely different from what I was imagining, but it hit upon some of the exact reasons that I *do* sign up my children for Lego League.
What do the Junior High students “get out of ” leading and organizing the weekly Lego League for primary students?
Valorization. There is a confidence that comes to these teenagers when they become aware that they have knowledge or a skill set that has financial value to adults. The same skill set and knowledge earns them money for the classroom also earns them a hero-worship-like following by the younger students in their care on Friday afternoons from 3-4pm.
It’s hard work for them at the end of a week, which is not a bad experience to have. Welcome to the world of adults! There are some tasks and responsibilities that you have to do. They’re responsible for providing a safe and enriching environment that is FUN for the participants, when they’re at the end of a long and mentally-exhausting week. The pressure is on to make it a good experience to have students sign up for the next round. (Parents: Sounds a bit like hosting a Friday-night birthday party, right?)
Adolescents are powerless over a lot of things: family, physical changes, and social dynamics to name a few areas. They are overwhelmed by global events beyond their control. Given their age and development, they want to tackle global causes and feel the stress of them with great magnitude. On Friday afternoons for Lego League, they see power and control in their more immediate world in being able to offer their knowledge (and it’s appreciated!) and provide a safe, fun setting for children whose parents see value in what they have to offer.
A CHEER goes up in the classroom when John-Marc presents the check for their services. It’s seen as power over their environment. When they spend the money on activities, they see it as controlling their environments and the future of the classroom. They get “real world” experience with the financial transactions that they seen adults around them doing day-to-day. They take the check to the bank, deposit it with the teller themselves. Two young women in the Junior High deposited the Lego League check last week. John-Marc said that they felt like queens stepping up to the teller to handle their transaction.
The money earned from Lego League this year will help fund their trip to Washington, D.C. and a camping trip to Hannibal, Missouri. The money will allow these adolescents to explore the world around them.