We asked the question about whether Simbrix is better than Lego, and in this podcast, we discuss with Sean Brass, a teacher from Neil M. Ross elementary school about how he transformed Simbrix pixel art beads and gave them an educational purpose than just a ‘creative puzzle’. As the ‘thought leader’ of innovation and education of his district in Alberta, he always wants the best for his students. In this interview, we get to meet Sean and find out how education has become more of a passion to him, than just a career choice.
Introduction to Sean:
Sean Brass discusses his role as being the ‘thought leader’ of innovation and education in his District and the fact that he’s ‘more than just a teacher’. The importance of this role allows Sean to partake in group collaborations to generate new ways of teaching, ways to achieve personal and professional development, but also to give support to teachers in education trying new processes. His aim has always been and will always be to inspire kids and bring out the hidden creativity within children.
Sean discusses topics including some of the personal challenges he has faced growing up including the first job he had in a financial role which he realised wasn’t for him. He went back to study education for two years and assist with American Football, where he realised this was what he wanted to do full time. Over the years, he has worked at many primary schools (including Neil M. Ross elementary school), and seen many students having a hard time being creative, exploring new things or afraid to get things wrong. He says ‘Learning isn’t a bad grade, grade does not dictate learning’ and that giving more of a realistic report to parents will help the children to succeed to the best of their ability. ‘Parents often want the best for their kids, due to a successful past themselves, or they want their children to achieve more than they did when growing up through the years’ – Sean.
There are also many new ideas which Sean has been a massive part of within the education system, mainly at Neil M. Ross elementary especially with the use of technology. Many years ago, we weren’t lucky enough to have some of the systems/programs that we take for granted every day now, and that’s why we need to use the efficiently and productively. There are many ways to educate children and even though we have to sometimes use boring worksheets to sometimes get work done, other forms of work can be undertaken with a more practical approach. This gives students the ability to interact with each other, using their devices as a research mechanism to find out more about Simbrix and the creation behind it, maximising group-work potential. The students are even lucky enough to use the library once a week to partake in ‘creative events’; for example: building structures/using 3D printing machines.
Through this podcast, Sean discusses the STEM system and explains that children who wouldn’t necessarily get involved with group work, would engage in the tasks set and work collaboratively with other students there to support. Sean is also interested in making fun ‘hands on events’, such as giving the children random items, asking them to make something and tasking them to ‘sell it’ to their class. This is also a positive for many students with learning differences/difficulties and they can benefit from these practical tasks as opposed to trying to get their ideas onto pen and paper.
Another valuable tool that Sean states, is that along with the STEM approach, there are a variety of stations at the school where children are able to be creative, including a stand of Simbrix beads. In this podcast he talks about how the naturally creative kids would think of ideas and visions and begin creating, whereas those who aren’t able to think of a design straightaway would use the book to use one of the pre-made designs as a template. This gives them the ability of personalising their design by including physical characters/items; e.g footballs, a concept initiated by Sean. He adds, ’Turning products/designs into a story rather than just sitting in front of the computer writing a story or just making a product without a meaning behind it’.
Lego vs Simbrix: ‘The Battle of Creativity’
To summarise the conversation, Assim and Sean discuss the similarities between the Lego brand and the Simbrix brand and the benefits of the Simbrix toys compared to Lego. Some of the key findings included; less instructions, increased creativity and children feeling more of a sense of pride once the design is finished. ‘Simbrix is a business, but also a mission’ – Assim.
So take a listen to this podcast with Assim and Sean to get an insight behind how and why Sean decided to take on some of the Simbrix beads and use them during his day-to-day school life, educating children as well as allowing them to explore their creative side. Not only showing children amazing life skills for the future, but how they shouldn’t be scared to make failures as part of their learning process.
Mr. Brass – @mrbrass78