What Can the World of Social Impact Learn from Toys?

Talking toy-making, play, and change-making with Ilana Ben-Ari, founder Twenty One Toys

Why It Matters

Social entrepreneur Ilana Ben-Ari makes toys to teach empathy and failure. Learning through play isn’t a new concept, but there are emerging ideas here that could punch up social impact leadership.

What did you play with during the holidays when you were a kid?

My mom is this wonderful combination of feminism and brilliance. She studied chemistry at Oxford, so I got all those terrible gifts that were all about learning. As a kid, I didn’t fully appreciate it, but now as an adult I appreciate how much the toys I play with shaped my view of the world, which was both about being curious and learning.

The whole toys in the workplace thing — it was a tech trend. Now, more serious skill-building toys are making inroads in the workplace. Why is this?

If we look at what the future of work looks like, it’s not about excelling in reading, writing, and arithmetic, it’s skills like creativity and collaboration.

Play unlocks such an incredible level of understanding and learning that is not just individual, but is shared and collected and continually practised.

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