Building bricks and resilience
Total concentration, a way to switch off and a form of expression: building bricks are being reborn as tools for therapy and reflection. Karen Barker explains why Lego is not just for children
I recently read an article (Harding, 2018) about the use of what is traditionally considered a child's toy—building bricks—to reduce stress and improve resilience. This caught my interest as I have been using similar strategies for a few years in teaching. We have several Lego kits at the University and these can be used in many different ways to allow students to reflect and to express their feelings in a safe way.
For example, students used Lego to reflect on how they felt starting the Midwifery programme. We had previously discussed this and the students were honest, highlighting a natural apprehension and nervousness at returning to study and working in clinical practice. They were then asked to make something that represented their feelings, and the results were quite remarkable. Some students used the dark colours to represent their feelings about the first placement; one created a ‘bridge’ that they were scared to cross, representing practice; and another placed themselves in a separate physical area to peers as they started the course a few days late. All said that they hadn't really thought in advance what they might make. The models helped me to appreciate the depth of students' feelings, and we were then able to explore this and put in place more supportive networks. The students didn't have to explain their models and many chose not to; however, they did say that they felt it was quite a cathartic experience.
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