As a young boy, I used to love Airfix models. The box with the picture on the front of the fantastic end product. The glue. The paints. Then all the other bits and pieces you had to gather – the craft knife, the sandpaper etc. It was a labour of love – but one that you knew was going to be worth it. Obviously I didn’t know it at the time, but it would be fair to say that this hobby was probably developing my growth mindset.
I knew that I was going to have to persevere with it. Starting a new Airfix kit was an act of love and required a commitment in terms of my time (much to the annoyance of my family as I took over the dining table for days on end). This was no instant gratification with an Airfix kit – but that was fine. It was worth it.
As an ‘Airfixer’ you had to have resilience. Things would go wrong. You’d lose a bit and then have to spend hours hunting for it. Something wouldn’t fit, so you’d have to carefully use your craft knife to shave off plastic until it did. You’d glue something, somewhere where it didn’t belong, so you’d have to remove it and then carefully clear away the surplus glue. There would be lots of setbacks, but you’d learn from them and make sure you didn’t repeat the errors you made with the spitfire, with the Messerschmitt. But that was fine – it was worth it.
You knew all about striving for excellence. The photo on the box was the standard you were aiming. So you would study it forensically and make sure you replicated it. You would also discuss excellence with other Airfixer friends – ask them what they had done to get that paint job just right? What did they think of yours? Was it as good as Gary’s? (Gary was the ‘King of Airfix’ – we all aspired to him). Where exactly did that sticker go? What was the paint pattern on the wing like? If you didn’t get it right, you would paint that bit again….and again, until you got it right. But that was fine – it was worth it.
We understood the importance of public critique. When you’d go round to your mate’s house, you’d often have to duck as you went into their bedroom to save yourself from bashing your head on the Airfix planes – hanging proudly from the ceiling on cotton. We would then go to town on offering feedback. Which one we liked….and why. Which one was rubbish….and why. But that was fine – it was worth it.
We also understood the need for effort and practice if we were going to master the Airfix models. There was no other way to get as good as Gary. You simply had to finish one, then get another and make it even better – learning from the mistakes of the last one. You also knew that the next one had to be more challenging, if you were going to get better. More pieces, more transfers, bigger and a far more complex paint job. No-one else was going to make you a ‘Master Airfixer’. It was down to you. But that was fine – it was worth it.
Imagine my dismay this morning when I saw this picture on my Twitter time line, of the new Airfix range:
No glue! No paint! Just build. Disaster.
They may as well put this on their box:
- No need for perseverance.
- No need for resilience.
- No need to strive for excellence.
- No need for public critique.
- No need for effort and practice.
- No need to challenge yourself.
There are parallels here with what’s happened in education over the last couple of decades I think. A previous post on how Mr Clarke taught in the 80s confirmed this. He made the learning hard, stressed the importance of effort and perseverance, made sure you challenged yourself and gave you the opportunity to do lots of practice. He also insisted on excellence – nothing less would do. He didn’t see him himself as an entertainer – there were no gimmicks. Just focused teaching and lots of hard work. It’s a shame that we’ve lost a bit of focus on these key aspects of teaching
So, if Airfix aren’t doing it for us, we need to ensure that we are in our classrooms. That through our teaching, we are developing these qualities in students, by adopting a growth mindset approach to our teaching . We owe it to them, if they are really going to develop as deep learners. If we don’t, we’re failing them.
Airfix…..shame on you!