Recently, Hilltop School outside of Seattle, Washington made the decision to ban Legos toys from children’s play after two months of children’s construction of a “Lego-town”, complete with “a collection of homes, shops, public facilities, and community meeting places” (community meeting places?). The reasoning behind their decision involved … well, I’ll let the teachers explain that:

“the Legotown builders turned their attention to complex negotiations among themselves about what sorts of structures to build, whether these ought to be primarily privately owned or collectively used…the children were building their assumptions about ownership and the social power it conveys — assumptions that mirrored those of a class-based, capitalist society — a society that we teachers believe to be unjust and oppressive.

A few days after we’d removed the Legos, we turned our attention to the meaning of power. During the boom days of Legotown, we’d suggested to the key Lego players that there was an unequal distribution of power giving rise to conflict and tension. Our suggestions were met with deep resistance. Children denied any explicit or unfair power, making comments like “Some-body’s got to be in charge or there would be chaos,” and “The little kids ask me because I’m good at Legos.” They viewed their power as passive leadership, benignly granted, arising from mastery and long experience with Legos, as well as from their social status in the group.

My friend Bruce has some suggestions for the Hilltop School and others like it, so that they can continue to speak truth to power:
TOP TEN OTHER CHILDRENS TOYS/CHARACTERS BANNED FROM HILLTOP CHILDREN’S CENTER:

10. Thomas the Tank Engine – Often disenfranchised by Gordon the Big Express Engine – Delivers capitalist goods to public structures of varying shapes and sizes with an obnoxious coal burning carbon footprint.

9. The Wiggles – Class-based group divided by different colored shirts. Yellow Wiggle always sings, oppressing other Wiggles, particularly Purple one who is disadvantaged by sleep disorder. “Captain” Feathersword promotes outdated concepts of rank and command contrary to the interests of the collective. Also, see carbon footprint above re: Big Red Car.

8. Jay-Jay the Jet Plane – Instrument of labor for capitalist, non-union airline that economically opresses those unable to afford air travel. See also carbon footprint above.

7. Barney the Purple Dinosaur – Constantly magically appearing in homes, shops, community meeting places and other vestiges of a class based society. Also, “Idea Bench” is dangerous setting for contemplation of new capitalistic and entreprenurial thought concepts.

6. Mickey Mouse – The Mickey Mouse Clubhouse is banned as it is a “Clubhouse” and as such class-based and not a public structure.

5. Cookie Monster – Symbol of wanton greed and avarice. Also see carbon footprint above re: flatulence from overindulgence of baked goods.

4. Dora the Explorer. Explores countryside – not social justice. Also, constantly oppressing the misunderstood fox, Swiper, who is simply trying to engage in resource-sharing.

3. Cinderella. Fights class warfare battle only to surrender and become a princess herself. Lives life of power, privlege and authority in opulent castle.

2. Snow White. See 3 above. Also, abandoned model team of underprivledged dwarfs in doing so.

1. Spongebob Squarepants. Where do we begin? Holds down a capitalist job at a restaurant making unhealthy food. Owns a private residence in the politically incorrectly named city of Bikini Bottom. Opresses a free creature, his “pet” snail named Gary. Covets “cool things” valued by a capitalist, class-based society. Pineapple residence not standard sized.

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