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Cambridge University set to have a Lego professor


United Kingdom

Cambridge University set to have a Lego professor

After a month receiving applications, Cambridge University is settling into the task of reviewing candidates for a highly-coveted permanent research position funded by the Lego Foundation.

Candidates had until Friday Jan. 20 to submit their application to be Cambridge’s Lego professor of play, who will lead the university’s Centre for Research and Play in Education .

Children as well as adults engage in various forms of playful behaviour, the centre says, and this is indicative that it has “motivational value in relation to learning.”

But little has been scientifically proven about the benefits that play offers and it is an under-researched aspect of children’s development.

The centre has for its mission to study how children learn when playing and highlight the role that child’s play has on a person’s mental development.

The Lego Foundation, which actively promotes and supports research into how playfulness affects a person’s creativity and approach to learning, helped launch the Cambridge centre in 2015 with a 4.6 million-euro endowment.

The foundation is committed to funding the research role in perpetuity and just more than half of the foundation’s funding has been earmarked for the soon to be filled professorship.

The remainder has been set aside for centre’s future agenda which the professor will be in charge of setting.

“The aim of the Pedal centre is to conduct rigorous research into the importance of play and how playful learning can be used to improve students’ outcomes,” said Anna Vignoles, the interim director of Cambridge’s Pedal centre, speaking to the Guardian newspaper.

The university says it is looking for someone who, has a “playful state of mind”, and is specialised in educational psychology.

“Children are now increasingly accessing early-years provision at very young ages,” Vignoles said. “There are a number of scholars who are working on interesting aspects of that in developmental psychology. We’re confident that we’ll attract an outstanding scholar.”