For sale: Stolen Childhood Dreams

This is fascinating:

An archive of toys taken from London schoolchildren by teachers in 150 different schools over thirty years.


The exhibit, entitled Confiscated Cabinets (currently on display at the Victoria & Albert Museum of Childhood in London) was assembled by teacher and artist Guy Tarrant, who became interested in the toys as tokens of resistance to school routines and discipline. He enlisted other teachers to donate their own confiscated items to his project.

Each year I have my own collection of confiscated items, though it usually consists of pens that students incessantly clicked and small trinkets that continued to find their way onto students’ desks and interfered with learning.

Last year I collected more than a dozen pens from one student alone.

Years ago, however, I had a class of third graders who were obsessed with toys and brought them in constantly. Action figures, Pokémon paraphernalia, Matchbox cars… it was endless.

As I confiscated one toy, another took its place, so I began placing these confiscated items into a large, clear, plastic pretzel container. When the container was full, I sealed it, photographed it and placed it for auction on eBay until the title “Stolen Childhood Dreams.”

The children were appalled that I would dare to sell their toys, but to their credit, the parents supported the decision. In the end, the jar sold for $87.00, and we donated the money to charity.

I tell my students that story at the beginning of every school year, and not surprising, I’ve never had to deal with toys to the level that I did that year.