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Critique Essay

In: Business and Management

Submitted By ydthomas
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A Critique of “Learning from Legos”
Joe Smith
ENG 103
Dr. Kowalski

A Critique of “Learning from Legos”
Earlier this month, I read an article from the New York Times titled “Learning from Legos.” “Learning from Legos” was written by Thomas de Monchaux, and published on March 16, 2014. This article not only touched on a part of my childhood that is very dear to me, Legos, but it also raised several interesting points about the little interlocking plastic toys. By reading this article, I found that the author was skilled at description as well as supporting his opinion with facts that made sense. However, he padded his editorial with several paragraphs that not only cluttered his article, but also managed to take the focus away from the argument. Before going over someone’s work and critiquing, either to praise it or condemn it, it helps to have an idea on what the article was about. Thomas de Monchax starts the article with a little glimpse into his childhood. Thomas tells us that as a child, Thomas’ father enacted a strict no toy policy. However, this policy has one exception, Legos. Thomas goes on to give us a little background on the Danish-made construction toys, stating that interestingly the global sales revenue has nearly tripled between 2007 and 2012 despite the recession. More important than the sales statistics of Legos is Thomas de Monchax’s observation that the principal of Legos resonates deeply with the current maker culture. This observation is the backbone of the entire article. To back that idea up, Thomas gives us two interesting facts, first that Google’s first server rack was made of Lego-like bricks and that the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Architecture Group constructed programmable Lego bricks. Thomas then goes off on a tangent about the creator of Froebel Blocks and Lincoln Logs before coming back around to explain why Legos fit so well with this idea of a maker culture. He states that the very idea of Legos is this sense of non-permanence and reusability, that anything that is made can be quickly dismantled and rebuilt into something new. This idea of demolition and reconstruction fits perfectly into a culture being born into a time of economic scarcity, such as this maker culture he describes. He also notes that this idea of reconstruction fits very well with the maker culture’s tendency to prototype and reuse ready-made objects to make new ones. Finally Thomas wraps up his article much like how he began it, by giving us a glimpse back into his childhood. There were several things that Thomas did well in his article. Above all, the article is very well written. His style had a way of taking me and pulling me into the events he described, most notably the passages about building whatever he wanted out of Legos when he was a child. He did this not only with the detail of his stories but also with his vocabulary. The best example of this would be a sentence near the end of his article where he describes the nostalgia of finding something he built as a child. He describes the structure “standing Ozymandias-like in a pile of bricks.” Instantly I was taken back to a few weeks ago when the same thing happened to me. Even better than Thomas’ description is the way he presented his argument that Legos and this modern-day maker culture are intertwined. He does this by giving examples of Legos in Google and MIT’s history. He also gives a few direct comparisons between the two. He discusses the fact that loss is built into the very essence of Legos, namely their non-permanence, and the idea of making old items into new ones of maker culture. Thomas also supports his connection by describing the reuse of Lego bricks and comparing it to the necessity of reuse and resourcefulness required in today’s age of economic scarcity. However, for everything Thomas did well in the article, it seemed there was something to improve upon. The biggest mistake I found in the article was the tangents he seemed to go off on. This article is in no way perfect. He inserts a few unnecessary paragraphs about Frank Lloyd Wright, Froebel Blocks, and Lincoln Logs. While it makes sense to try and explain the background of building toys in an article about Legos, adding this information into the article only clutters it and takes away from the focus. He even goes and tells a personal story about finding Froebel Blocks in a flea market. This entire section just comes and goes with no real reason behind it. It had nothing to do with the article and the article would be stronger without it. If I were to rewrite this article, I would cut away those excess paragraphs that seemed to have no connection to the article. The paragraphs about Frank Lloyd Wright, Froebel Blocks, and Lincoln Logs are completely unnecessary. In fact, I would try and focus more on the connection of maker culture to Legos. Thomas should have replaced these paragraphs with ones about maker culture, its history, and its impact on society and that would have made more sense. I would also see if there were a few more examples of tech companies using Legos to help achieve their goals.
Thomas de Monchaux’s article “Learning from Legos” is a glimpse into not only the author’s childhood, but also into a connection between the colorful brick-building toy and the modern-day movement, known as the maker culture. While the article has its strengths, the descriptions are well worded and the argument is backed with good evidence, there is still a major problem. The article suffers from several paragraphs of needless information that detract from the topic and clutter the article. While I feel that the article has its faults and I would have done things differently, overall the article is pretty well written even with these faults.

De Monchaux, T. (2014, March 16). Learning From Legos. The New York Times. Retrieved from

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