Doing Lego with five year olds: way harder than university teaching

LeoPalimpset. Enjambment. Penultimate. Euphemism. Othering. Slant Rhyme. Rhetoric.  Poststructuralism. These are all words that I am lucky to talk to my first-year university class about as we move through contemporary poetry and, as one student recently put it, read the s**t out of life. I get to write them on the board, use them in a sentence, and talk about what they mean and why they’re worth knowing. My arms wave around, my voice goes up and down, and it’s a conversation in which I love participating.

This weekend, my pedagogical skills were stretched to their absolute max: I did a Lego set with Leo, my favourite five year old. It was a set with two motorcycles, a safe, and a tow truck. We started small with the bodies, which Leo masterfully constructed based on his already-solid handle on human body structure. I helped him adjust the heads to the eyeballs of the police officers showed up through the visors of their helmets. After that, my job was solely to interpret the pictograms in the instruction booklet and describe the act of assembling the vehicles. No pointing, no moving around, and definitely no touching of the pieces. My hand, straying too close to the field of action, was deftly removed. How to describe the pictures? It was much harder than I imagined without the ability to point and pick up. A new, less familiar vocabulary rose to the surface: The clear white wedge faces towards the black stripey grill. We need a fat, tall grey tower with a bump on top. This goes on the upside-down red triangle.

I head back to poetry to regain my bearings.

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