The Toy Maker

A large part of the world still educates their kids using a system that’s completely antiquated. Personal choices and interests don’t matter, and learning by rote is the norm. Government schooling is woefully inadequate and the teachers are just not equipped, or trained, to be able to impart useful education. [Arvind Gupta], a science educator, is trying to change this by teaching kids how to build toys. His YouTube channel on Toys for Science and Math Education has almost 100,000 subscribers and over 44 million views. It’s awesome.

matchstickmecanno01[Arvind] graduated from one of the finest engineering schools in India, the Indian Institute of Technology in Kanpur, and joined the TATA conglomerate at their heavy-vehicles plant helping build trucks. It didn’t take him long to realize that he wasn’t cut out to be building trucks. So he took a year off and enrolled in a village science program which was working towards changing the education system. At the weekly village bazaar, he came across interesting pieces of arts and crafts that the villagers were selling. A piece of rubber tubing, used as the core of the valve in bicycle tubes, caught his eye. He bought a length and a couple of matchboxes, and created what he calls “matchstick Meccano”.

This was in the 1970’s. Since then, he has been travelling all over India getting children to learn by building fun toys. The toys he designs are made from commonly available raw material and can be easily built with minimum resources. These ingenious DIY toys and activities help make maths and science education fun and interesting for children at all levels of schooling. All of his work is shared in the spirit of open source and available via his website and YouTube channels. A large body of his work has been translated in to almost 20 languages and you are welcome to help add to that list by dubbing the videos.

Check out the INK Conference video below where he shares his passion for education and shows simple yet entertaining and well-designed toys built from trash and recycled materials.

8 thoughts on “The Toy Maker

  1. “Government schooling is woefully inadequate and the teachers are just not equipped, or trained, to be able to impart useful education”

    Worse than that in the UK, the teachers are not allowed to teach outside the curriculum. This means that any gifted children are “no different” from their peers. This leads to boredom and anti social behaviour from the gifted rather than starting them off on a promising road.

    1. Yup, they also advance you based on your age and not ability. I’m dyslexic and left school @ 15 in 1984, I was illiterate yet was writing and selling games on the ZX spectrum. Once I left school I was able to start learning and whilst working went to collage in the evening. The striking thing about collage, only the people there wanted to be there. We were of all ages and there was no shame in repeating a year. I’m now 46 with a very exciting and long career as a software engineer. We need a new system, although I am not sure of the best way to do it.

    2. Yup. I was a super-smart kid. But we’d learn how to do, say, long division, do a few examples to prove the point, and I’d be happy. But then it’s 4 more pages, of exactly the same. And that’s where my interest immediately dropped to zero. I was probably, honestly, smartest kid in most classes. But my results were pretty crap, cos when I lost interest I lost motivation and spent the time trying to find anything else to entertain myself.

      Gifted kids aren’t the only ones to lose out at British schools though.

      What’s worse is, you go on Facebook, and people who you KNOW passed GCSE English can’t spell or use grammar properly to save their lives. They wouldn’t have passed with that standard! They’ve also forgotted every bit of maths or science they ever knew. So ultimately how much point was there?

      I think there’s a lot of things there’s no point in teaching kids, adults would do better at it. Not got a plan in mind for how that’d work. Then again much of the point of school is the implicit stuff, not the explicit curriculum. Stuff about how society says you should behave and think. Stuff the teachers often aren’t even aware they’re teaching.

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