You’re never too old to play with LEGO.
Graeme Dymond, brick artist and former LEGO master builder at the LEGOLAND Discovery Centre in Vaughan Mills, is living proof of this.
Dymond’s passion for LEGO is obvious. From his LEGO belt buckle to his LEGO name tag his excitement for the product is contagious as he shares his story of where it all started.
“Since a young age I’ve always been a collector of LEGO,” said Dymond. “As I grew older and other people grew out of LEGO from their childhood I just never stopped playing.”
Dymond worked at TD Bank Group in the corporate training division until November 2012 when he heard of an open call inviting adult LEGO fans across Canada to a weekend-long building contest at Harbourfront. The prize: a full-time job at the LEGOLAND Discovery Centre.
Leaving a stable career to pursue a childhood-turned-lifelong passion may be a difficult decision for some, but not Dymond. When he was announced the winner he quickly called his boss to let him know he wouldn’t be returning to work.
“It was such a great opportunity,” he said. “I got to work with LEGO in so many new, different and interesting ways that I never thought possible before and in scales that I hadn’t built before. It was so much fun getting to be a big kid every day.”
After receiving several requests from different groups for team building sessions, Dymond took his skill set in both teaching and working with LEGO and became a full-time brick artist, hosting workshops like the “Building Student Success through LEGO” workshop at Humber College.
In the workshop, Dymond shows how creative methods of teaching, such as incorporating LEGO as a learning tool, can be beneficial to students even at the college level.
“Critical to its success as a learning tool is that it’s infinitely expressive,” said Dymond. “It lures you into a sense of comfort that allows you to express yourself and start conversations. You sit around at a table with other people who are playing with LEGO and peoples true inner selves start to come out.”
Dymond’s workshop provides alternate skill sets that could apply to any teaching environment and offer methods to encourage participation from students.
“Nobody builds the same thing twice and everybody has a different interpretation of what they build and what could be built with LEGO,“ said Dymond.
Some students, such as Desiree Davis, a second-year student in the law clerk program, remain skeptical.
“I never was interested in LEGO even when I was younger,” said Davis. “[My program] is more paperwork based so I wouldn’t see how that would work out.”
Sarah Carabetta, intermediate/senior math teacher with the Peel District School Board said although LEGO may not work for every student, finding opportunities to teach in innovative ways each day is critical to student success.
“Based on the changing needs of the modern day student, teachers need to constantly be enhancing their lesson design to reach as many students as possible,” said Carabetta. “The classic classroom environment of teacher-centric lessons has become dated, and teachers must adapt to new ways of content delivery to facilitate critical thinking in their students.”
“I personally love the idea of LEGO workshops – it’s a hands-on approach to concepts that may be difficult to learn, which reaches students who are more kinesthetic or visual learners. Students can never be too old to work with toys. Whatever works to get the curriculum content through to all students, I say go for it!”
With the excitement and discussion that ensued in the workshop, Dymond shows it’s never too late to bring out your inner child to facilitate learning.
“What keeps me coming back is that it’s a toy – it’s more than just a toy – it’s a tool that has endless possibilities, “ said Dymond. “There really aren’t any limits to what you can do with LEGO.”