January 10, 2016
The Lego Millennium Falcon set has more than 5100 pieces. It comes with an eighty page instruction book. You follow the instructions and build the model that is described in the book.
This is very different than the Legos I grew up with.
When I grew up Legos were either rectangular or square shaped and most were the same thickness.
Now if you want to build a slanted piece you buy one. Then you stacked rectangular pieces like stair-steps and imagined they sloped evenly.
You built things and then mostly had to tell other people what you'd built. They'd tip their heads and sort of get what you were talking about and say "oh, I see, it's a ..." and repeat whatever you'd told them it was.
Once you'd built your creation, you'd admire it a little, play with it a little, and then take off some major component of it and modify it and make it better. You'd admire it a little more and then take it apart and put the individual blocks back in a box where you could start all over and build something else.
When I was a kid, no piece had a canonical place in the finished model. There was no windshield piece or hinged door that opened. They were all rectangles or squares and their color wasn't that important.
I look at the learning software we give kids to play with. We give them flashcards or models. We don't give them Legos. And I don't mean Millennium Falcon Legos, I mean the old fashioned kind. The set with the ordinary blocks that required and encouraged imagination.
Those are the blocks a child can build a curious and creative life with.