Denmark Three!

This is the third in a series of blog posts from Whitties studying on Whitman’s Crossroads: Denmark program this summer with Professor Michelle Janning. This blog post is by Kyle.

Hello fellow readers! I am sorry for the lack of updates, but the class has started to pick up. I will try to recap as best I can, but the days have been zooming by so fast.

Nancy left off at our day to the castle…..

We woke up bright and early to head to the LEGO house in Billund. A quick 45-minute bus ride and boom, we were there. I instantly jumped off the bus and ran toward the giant yellow staircase that descends from the second story of the building. (I, later, found out that the area was closed… oops!) We received a wonderful tour from a LEGO representative and learned about all the fantastic things you could do there. The entire house is constructed around the idea of learning through play. Therefore, each of the different sections of the house targeted vital skills that the LEGO family wants children to develop when they go to the LEGO house.  

The red room was all about creativity; there were boxes and boxes of Legos that you could build whatever you wanted with. The blue room is concerned with problem-solving. You could create a race car and see how fast you could make it go. Or play an interactive game where you moved buildings around to satisfy digital Lego figures. And there was another section where you could make a fish out of legos and have a program digitize your fish and put it in an aquarium. The yellow room dealt with emotions; you could make a flower (which was actually super tricky, and I could imagine getting very frustrated) or a bug that would “come to life.” Finally, the green room was about social interaction. In this room, you could create mini figures with a billion different combinations of heads, hats, accessories, bodies, and hairstyles. You could make a motion stop film with your figurines. You could also spend hours observing the world that professional LEGO builders made that told hundreds of different stories.  All in all… it was an experience never to forget.

On Friday, we debriefed about some of the things we had learned so far and connected what we were observing and experiencing with the literature we had been reading during the trip. A theme that came up a few times was how many of the different institutions we looked at had a similar approach to how children learn and play. There has been an emphasis thus far toward giving children the tools to build and create without a template, without the expectations of a particular something they should be learning or building. This can be seen clearly from our trip to the culture house where there was a workshop full of tools and recyclable materials where children could imagine and create. A similar space was the Lego design studio, in which children are given a general task to create a mechanism that. For example, noise, except there are hundreds of different ways to meet that criteria and not a single “correct answer.”

Monday, we visited a refugee and deportation center called Sjaelsmark Deportation Center. Many students had different experiences and reactions to being here, so I do not wish to speak on behalf of the class because my emotions and experience could have differed widely from another student’s. When we came back to the classroom Deewa, a guest speaker, told us about her experience of being a refugee and contextualize some of the things we saw at Sjaelsmark. She emphasized how the media shapes our views regarding refugees and one of the main takeaways from Deewa’s story is to not see refugees as being hopeless or weak (like the media portrays) and seeing refugees as strong and just people who want to live.  

That’s all from me, folks. Look forward to Nancy’s blog post, where she is featuring each student about something they learned in Denmark.

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