Who doesn’t have “playing with Lego all day” up there on their list of dream jobs, next to “beer tester” and “paid to exist?” Everybody loves the little colorful bricks, even if nobody likes stepping on them, and, believe it or not, “professor of Lego” is now a real job you can hold, at the prestigious University of Cambridge.
But there’s a bit more to it than just assembling kits. Lego is endowing a chair at the university as a child psychology position. The company wants to build toys that teach kids real world skills like teamwork and problem-solving, and believes funding some pure research into that area will help them construct toys that make kids smarter and more engaged with the world.
The problem is that play, as a psychological tool, just isn’t well researched. People make a lot of claims about it but there’s very little science to back it up, so Lego is paying to see what’s scientific and what’s bunk when it comes to kids and their toys. Not just anybody can apply, though, as you need to have a research record in the field and be internationally respected. Which is odd, since “professor of Lego” is a title that carries respect without any help.
All jokes aside, Lego has a noble goal, here, and that they’re backing up their mission with actual cash is an important step. The toys we give our kids are more and more fun ways to teach them valuable skills, and the more we refine toys to help kids work better together and think critically, the better off we’ll all be.
After all, one day they’ll be running the world, so we want them as smart as possible.
(via The BBC