Evidence For The Brilliance Of Real Human Kids

This post was first posted on the Design Council’s Knee High Project blog and published in The Carrier.

Coney is working on a project for the Design Council who have commissioned all kinds of research to help map opportunities and challenges around the well-being of children under 5; this research will feed into a brief for designers for interventions that might help in the future.


Coney has designed an ‘adventure in research’, after the Adventures in Learning that we’ve developed for classrooms. It was inspired by the ‘The Selfish Giant’ but presented to a primary school as if it’s happening for real. So you won’t be surprised to learn that a private inventor, Albert X*, is developing prototypes for ‘perfect robot children’ on a remote Scottish island.


Detail from the scrapbook designed and made by Tanya Dean


Albert’s son Tom is trying to change his Dad’s mind by proving the brilliance of real human kids, who have their ups and downs, make mistakes, are playful and silly: these qualities are what make them brilliant. He’s gone back to his own primary school to ask for help from experts in the brilliance of real human kids. Their mission: to gather evidence documenting the daily life of a Real Human Kid, played by their younger brother or sister if they have one, their own remembered younger self if not. Tom delivers them cardboard boxes each brimming with creative goodies to help.


So on Monday I went back to our first school with Tom X (masterfully played by Tom Bowtell) and Hen Norton who’s managing the project and like me, playing a real-life friend of Tom. They’d brought back their decorated boxes; maps of their neighbourhood as seen by a Real Human Kid; paper plates collaged with their favourite meals; a scrapbook (beautifully designed by Tanya Dean) which framed responses to daily challenges. We chatted and learnt about many things including sausages, silly voices, and a sister who’s only naughty on Wednesdays.


Tom visits his Dad on Boxing Day. But if he can’t convince Albert, then perhaps the class will pretend to be venture capitalists and lure Albert to their school to present him with incontrovertible evidence of the brilliance of real human kids. I’d bet on it.


X* is a surname that is classified for public broadcast.

Tassos Stevens

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