This week I would like to talk about my ongoing study of an important academic tool. Yes, that’s right – Lego.
My little boy developed a sudden Lego fixation last week. As a result we have bits of Lego Hogwarts lying around the house, and we’ve all taken to wearing slippers with sturdy soles. So of course I couldn’t resist delving into the murky world of Classical Lego – purely for research purposes, you understand. After a great deal of serious and scholarly collaborative research (also known as ‘Googling with a six-year-old’), I will now present my findings and draw some conclusions, before making some earnest recommendations for future research and development.
For Latinists there is the wonderful Legonium, with its Twitter outlet @tutubuslatinus. The site’s creator talked about its role in teaching in an interview earlier this year. Legonium has some fantastic videos, stories and grammar illustrations: so if you’re starting out with Latin, you should certainly take a look!
For a wider classical audience there are the Lego Classicists, models of famous classicists in Lego. This is the honour to which we all aspire! Mary Beard became a Lego Classicist this year, as reported by the BBC.
There are also numerous Lego representations of Roman and Greek characters and sites. For instance, Brick to the Past has recreated Hadrian’s Wall in Lego; Prof. Michael Scott shared his recreation of the Delphi sanctuary of Apollo this week; and the Lego flagship store in Rome has been producing some impressive creations.
The internet gives a home to Lego videos which cover everything from epic battles [not one for the kids!] to Greek drama [my personal favourite!]:
My research to date has established that Lego is not only an effective teaching tool, but also a high status one, being respected by people at the top of our profession. As a result, I am now confident that I can redefine my Saturday afternoon building a Whomping Willow as a professional development activity.
Directions for future research
Clearly Lego has great potential; but it is under-utilised by the Higher Education sector as a whole. While there are several pioneers of Lego Classics lurking around the internet, their work has yet to break into mainstream university teaching. The obvious next step is to roll out the initiative, by replacing all tutorials with hands-on Lego experimentation. As a responsible tutor, my role in this should clearly be to facilitate this Big Shift, and to give up all forms of teaching in favour of messing around with toys.
Well, maybe the world is not yet ready for the Lego Revolution! But just wait till they make me Vice Chancellor…!
This week’s classical links from the four corners of the internet
From Classical Studies Support
Other toy-based continuing professional development is available: I’m rather partial to Playmobil.
Returning mosaic pieces – Daily Sabah
Black Sea decree – Archaeology in Bulgaria
Tomb in Mycenae – Greek Reporter
Acropolis strike over exploitation – The Guardian
Ancient shipwrecks – Reuters
Evidence of the ancient drug trade? – The Daily Beast
Antiquities and looting in Syria – PRI
Greek vessel conservation – Index Magazine
Building a Jordan database – Jordan Times
New pictures from Pompeii – The Telegraph
The Greeks predicted driverless cars and Alexa – The Sun
Vesuvius and exploding skulls – Forbes
Boris, Classics, truth and Brexit – The Guardian
Comment and opinion
Classics and comics – Institute of Classical Studies
The significance of the Aeneid – The New Yorker
Touring Swat – Lugubelinus
The adventures of OU classicists – OU Classical Studies Blog
Dalek and Gallifreyan scripts – CREWS Project
A kernel of truth in Livy? – Ancient World Magazine
Writing about democracy – The Sphinx
Graphic novels and the ancient world – Society for Classical Studies
Loebs and other facing translations – Arab Lit
Latin helpful for summoning demons – The Onion
Teaching migration – Classics and Social Justice
Some thoughts on ‘decorum’ – Aeon
Should Homer be read with a British accent? – Under the Button
Hadrian the Opera – The Loop
Etruscan treasures – Wanted in Rome
Staging Electra – Sententiae Antiquae
Donna Zuckerberg wrote a thing – Eidolon
… and talked about it – Greek History Podcast
Roman dust – Cosmos
Eagle of the Ninth? – Turning Points of the Ancient World
Classics and YouTube – Medium
Singing about myth – London Theatre 1
… and dancing with Medusa – Ipswich Star
Sensory Londinium – The History Girls
Podcasts, videos and other media
Reading The Silence of the Girls – BBC Radio 4
Portraits of the dead in Palmyra – The Iris
Armour of the ancient world – The History Network
Warrior Queens – Ancient History Fangirl
Prometheus – Extra Credits
Talking about magic – ABC
Want to save the Roman Republic? – Riddle
The controversial Callixtus – Pontifacts
Greek werewolves – Foxwede History
Talking about the Odyssey – TLS: Acast