Edx Education In Conversation with Cyril Dowling, Author, Play expert, Sales Director Polydron

Episode 38: Heather Welch from Edx Education today we will be in conversation with Cyril Dowling, Author, Play expert, Sales Director Polydron

Cyril is an accomplished author and travelled the world talking about play and learning with polydron.

Today we are chatting with about his book, Polydron which is one of our favourite educational toys , hands on &  play based learning.

Here are the highlights:

{1:23} I was encouraged to follow my dreams

{6:30} Getting into a rich vein of creative thinking

{9:53} Playing with Polydron inspired me to become an engineer

{15:37} Amazing open-ended play

{19:11} The best product ideas come from its users

{24:29} Once you unlock the secret of Polydron, you can do anything

#learningthroughplay #polydron #edxeducation #handsonlearning 

Heather Welch (00:02):

You’re listening to education experts with edx education. Education is evolving. Join Heather well edx education chatting with teachers, psychologists, parents, authors, creators, and other tons of experts to keep up with the trends and what’s happening from around the globe. This podcast series edx education discusses, home learning, school readiness, being creatives, changing in education, discussing what’s next hands-on learning. Or as we like to say, learning through play.

Heather Welch (00:38):

Welcome everyone. Heather welch from edx education. And today we in conversation with Cyril Dowling author play expert in sales director of poly. John cereals is an accomplished author and traveled the world, talking about play and learning with polytrauma today. We’re chatting about his book poly drawn, which is one of our favorite educational toys in my house with my boys and hands-on and play-based learning. Welcome, Sarah. We are so happy you could join us today.

Cyril Dowling (01:05):

Thank you very much that you made me sound so much better than I think of myself.

Heather Welch (01:10):

Cyril, I have to ask you, how does a rock star jetting around the world as a holiday rep, get involved with educational toys, making, play creative, fun, and engaging whilst learning?

Cyril Dowling (01:23):

You know, I’ve often thought that myself, but I, I had a dream when I was at school. I wanted to be a musician and, you know, I was encouraged by my parents, luckily to follow my dreams and the ended up, you know, sort of getting a job going and playing in a band for way too many years. And you know, was very lucky to tour and support some big bands and names and all that kind of thing. And just when I came to the end of that, we reached the end of its cycle. I was about 27, 28 and I needed to, uh, to get a job, do something else. So I ended up again getting back into travel and going off and writing and all that kind of thing. And eventually found myself again, 10 more years down the track and needed a job, had a few skills looked in the paper and there was this advert from a company called polygon who I’d never heard of. And when I met my future business partner or partner, which is hard stuff, and the rest is history, I’ve enjoyed every minute of it since

Heather Welch (02:22):

Cyril. So you’ve been with polygon. How long now? Oh, sorry, sorry. Um, so how long have you been with poly John?

Cyril Dowling (02:31):

18 years now? 18 years. So yeah, it’s been a fantastic journey. When, when, when I joined it was, um, I kind of think of polygon in, in two different phases. Really. We ha we had just the original product, which was invented by a man called Edward Harvey, uh, many, many years ago. And he was a gifted man. I tell you something about Edward Harvey, very, very quick aside, you know, BIC pens, BIC pens, the little lid on the blue lid, that’s it way back in the past people would, or young children would suck on these leads. And so I think there was some danger of choking, but Edward Harvey, very, very simple key cut the top of the pen. So holding the top of the big pen. So now, you know, when you, when you, if you swallow one of those things, you can breathe through the hole and it gives you an idea of safety was in Edward Harvey’s bones when he invented polydrug.

Cyril Dowling (03:22):

So, you know, quality and safety were really important to him, but you know, when, when he invented that little product that, that hinged product with a ball and socket joint, and it showed the differences in two dimensional it’s freedom, actual products, you know, he invented something that was not just a fantastic product, but a safe product that kids could use and parents could let their children use it. And teachers could use it faster, knowing that it was safe and that it was going to, you know, gonna last for a long, long time. But then when I joined, we were kind of coming to, to a point where we’d sold so much of that stuff around the world, it was still being successful, but he needed some sort of new, a new dimension to it. And that came really from my business partner, Richard Hart staff who invented the magnetic poly drone, which is all along the same principle or handed product only works one way, but magnetic Polish on sickest, great U levels. And, you know, we’ve just gone from strength to strength since then. We’ve been very, very lucky, but we, again, we make products that parents, children, teachers love using. And, you know, I, I kind of sounds very, very lucky for that.

Heather Welch (04:28):

Cyril, we love magnetic polydron in his house. My both my boys have used it. They use it for everything. They use it to throw their balls at their make large towers. They make, they go from three to 2d, to 3d many, many years ago. Actually you showed me a trick of how to lay all the college on out, and then you pull it up and visit me to not a 20 sided object is the 20 sided shape. And my oldest son still does that to my youngest son today. And he does it to his friends if they come around. So that’s still is a big trick that we use in our house. I remember being fair and videoing it as you were showing me. So I could learn to show my boys how amazing I was with all the, you know, fantastic. But there, I mean, one thing that we love about polygon is that it can be the car garage. It can be a princess castle, it can be the zoo. It can be. And nowadays, I mean, I looked at something the other day and what you’ve brought out in the last 12 months I saw there’s now they’re sustainable. There’s there is, um,

Cyril Dowling (05:34):

we’re on a run, Heather, you know, Polydron is the base for that. It’s just, it’s just been so fantastic for us, you know, but, but we always remember the original polygon because without that, we would not wouldn’t have the magnetic now. And this original product was still sells in huge amounts all around the world. But magnetic polygon has been like the glamour model of the whole, you know, the Pantheon of polygon on products. And that trick that you talk about making that, I think it’s a rhombi Cubo. He dropped his, it’s still my party piece, Heather. I use it all the time and it’s amazing. I must’ve done it. I reckon probably about a million times and still people not have seen it. They go, oh, wow. That’s amazing. I mean, even, even I’ll do if for a top of a hat, if the people around here we were having a chat about so nothing to do with children, I’ll still make it because it looks so good, you know, but mainly kids pick that up so quick and learn to run with it.

Cyril Dowling (06:30):

But there’s so many things that they then show me, or they send to us on our, you know, through our websites, stuff that they’ve made with, not just with magnetic Polycom, with normal polygon as well. And you know what happens sometimes I think with your company, you get into a rich vein of creative thinking, and we’ve been very, very lucky to be able to sit around a table, myself and Richard, Darren bell, and our moderator Hannah.
We sit there and we, we, we think of new products. And what we do is we have like an open forum or whatever, ridiculous. The idea is we’ll have a go, we’ll have a think about it and not all of them work, but some of them do. And the ones that were, it feels great when they’re out there and they’re being used in schools, it feels fantastic. You know, I’m sure you know that as well, but you know, your, your ultimate audience of the children and the teachers, and if they love it,

Heather Welch (07:18):

You’re on a winner. Would you think about polydron is that 2d to 3d play, which children’s start even with, you know, things like Lego or, you know, construction cubes, any of those sort of things. They start to D they bring it up 3d. And that’s the beauty of the magnetic tiles is that the age, if they put it close to each other, they can then always attach, you know, whereas they don’t have to click it in or anything like that, but they can start this 3d play quite early and they can figure it out. I mean, and it teaches the persistence when there, it falls down, the foundations were, why did it? And they learn, you know, to make the Eiffel tower or the Burj Khalifa, or Big Ben, I should say is we are in the UK. Um, rather than, you know, that 2d, 3d plays such an important part of children’s learning. And when they’re first developing the play, but also maths, I mean, w we’re learning our mass concepts really early with the poly, especially the magnetics. So,

Cyril Dowling (08:16):

Well, what better way to learn about anything than to do it through play when, when you play and you find these things almost by accident, that’s just a fantastic thing. And, you know, we’re so lucky as well, Heather, that mathematics is, is the same, no matter what the language, I mean, we, we, we sell, I think probably the last count was about 65 different countries around the world or kids, you know, th although the language might divide us, the quest for creativity, the quest for knowledge is there, you know, everybody, every young child, when you show them something that something magic that comes to life in their hands, they love it. You know? And so we’re very, very lucky with that. And, you know, like you say, learning, play just investigating. And I think probably in my mind, the best thing about drawn, I think is that when kids get together or work on the road and they make different shapes, if they get it wrong, if they mess it up, it doesn’t matter.

Cyril Dowling (09:12):

Cause to squash it down and start all over again, it’s not something like you glue it together and you stick it together and it’s, it’s, it’s, you know, if you get it wrong, it’s wrong forever. You just start all over again. And kids just love to do that. If they make a mistake and they squash it, then they start again. And again and again, that is just, you know, that to me, that’s magic watching magic in action, watching people learn, watching people make mistakes, you know, that’s, that’s, I’ve put through mistakes. We learn, you know? And, uh, yeah, I mean, it, it does it excites the curious people, you know, we are a curious side of our brains, I guess when you get something like magnetic and like original polytrauma, you know, I’ll tell you a little story. We had a guy a day wrote to Richard in the office and he poly Johns.

Cyril Dowling (09:53):

Now, I think we’ve been going now since the late seventies. So we’re getting on for, you know, 40 years. So, you know, a guy wrote to us, who’s now a fully qualified engineer, um, working, I don’t know, some big, I won’t name check him, but he, he said to us that he was educated at Oxford university. And he said he was inspired to follow an engineering path because he first used Polydor on the original Polydor and way back in school in the eighties. How fantastic is that? No, that’s happened. We have teachers come. I said, I remember this Monday was a child. I didn’t, that was still going in and just, you know, great to be able to have inspired, generous, and still being inspiring. [inaudible]

Heather Welch (10:34):

The magnetic ones like the rolls Royce, isn’t it. So, I mean, it’s from the original poly drawn. So, and actually to be honest, it’s much easier. The, the original poli John’s great, but the clicking in, whereas the magnetic one, as I was saying before, the children can always, they can always build it, break it, they can do so many. It’s insane. The creativity levels. I mean, you know, what I love is that I watched my two boys very different in age and one will use it and look at the size perimeter and, you know, all those sort of things.

And the other one would just be watching and build something. But then later on, he tries to copy what his brother does and he doesn’t really know what he’s learning, but there are concepts there that when he goes and he goes to school and they start talking about it, he’s got this, you know, like memory, brain, man muscle memory, which will remember what was done. So, I mean, here’s a question for you. So like in the last 12 months, we have had a different year, a very unconventional year as a mom and working in industry, it’s being unconventional in many ways, but have you found that, you know, has it been, you know, parents and caregivers, teachers, are they looking for more? So for example, hands-on screen-free option. Yeah, creativity. Absolutely.

Cyril Dowling (11:47):

I mean, you know, you go from your, first of all, your own home where you see your children obsessed with, with, you know, technology, iPhones and iPads and play stations that just suck them in and take them away from doing things with their hands, seeing things outside of the house that, that, and I think there’s a massive market for products like ours, like Lego, like edge edX stuff that kids can pick up and play with and have to put together. You know, we talked about, you talk about that original polygon, the one that clicks together, you know, that is difficult for some children, but, you know, there’s nothing wrong with a little bit work rewards. You know, they, they see that they have to work the unlock secret of like picking a couple in and then they’re away and they can do anything they want to do.

Cyril Dowling (12:36):

But, and, you know, because of this, this, this move into technology is almost become the prisoners of apple. When we, every time we open up an iPad or phone or whatever, you know, and, and it sucks kids in and can take hours and hours and they’re every single day they’re losing that ability to be able to, to those Nikita skills. I, I remember talking to someone saying that kids were finding it very difficult. Now, when they go into school from the age of 400 to actually hold a pen, because many of them have never held a pen they’ve never, or very, very seldom, you know, I I’m, I’m guilty of this myself, but I’ve been sat in restaurants, you know, when we were sick, our kids out and we were young and my wife would always bring a big bag of pens and paper and just put the pens and paper and they would just play with that nowadays.

Cyril Dowling (13:23):

It’s just not that way anymore. You go into a restaurant and maybe you’re talking to maybe a friend or you’re talking to your husband or your wife, and you give your kids the iPhone to play and take up their time, but they’re not developing the skill sort of game to school. And they’ve got this problem where they can’t hold a pen properly. So they’re kind of, you know, that they’re not, whether it’s a good thing about the, I don’t know, because nowadays you have to know about technology. You have to know, but I still think you need those basic manipulative skills in there really, really important. And I think we as parents and I’m probably older as a parent, but I, every parent I speak to either through our website, people who talk to us at shows, all that kind of thing, they say they want their kids to, to, you know, to, to use their hands, have this hand-eye coordination, which sadly seems to be disappearing.

Cyril Dowling (14:13):

And it’s frustrating, even though I know I’m not, I’m not anti technology. I think it’s really important. The more kids know about it, the better prepares them for the world, but they still need those basic skills. They still need to need to know how to hold it. But it’s still new that the click polygons together, they still cause is it some that 85% of what you absorb? I don’t know what the statistics are off of pat, but you know, you touch things and you learn when you touch, you know, when you feel things, we terrible. If we lost that, those skills, I think anyway, but then that’s my opinion.

Heather Welch (14:47):

So no, it’s also very social. I mean, it’s the development of play. There’s different ways that children, cause you know, when they’re, when they’re young, they’re parallel plays, so they might parallel play together and then they play, you know, messy play the dexterity of the hands. Oh, I completely agree with you that they need, uh, to it. I mean, we are, we have to embrace a hybrid model, I suppose. I see it now where, whether it’s, you know, we look at maybe the extension activity cards or they are within a, or you know, instructions and they’re within the digital frame, but then you have this, hands-on where they do get that hand-eye coordination, the cognitive development, the way that the brain works and they can problem solve, then they can get the fine motor skills, the gross motor skills. I mean, you’re so right in thinking that, and also open-ended play, which is what polytrauma is.

Heather Welch (15:37):

I mean, it’s this amazing open-ended play that teaches you anything from construction. As you said, like architect engineering, we could make a new bridge or we could do all these scaffolding and design activities and the children are solving world’s problems. Like we could have all these children, we have just basic poly drawn. So just some basic, some of the magnetic, basic polygon. And we could say, okay, were stranded on a tropical island and we need to get to the island 10 kilometers, but we’re not allowed to, we can’t use a boat. How can we get there? I mean, I know if I did that to my children, I’d have like these trampolines and they’d build something tower bridge, you know, that has some amazing things, but that would be part of a scaffolding exercise where children are learning and maybe we do it online. And, but we do it with hands on materials. And I think that’s a really important thing that, you know, these materials like educational toys or resource, whichever you’d like to call them, but they’re so important in children, especially those first five years, you know? So I couldn’t agree more. We, we are, we..

Cyril Dowling (16:42):

Are moving in a different direction. The world has changed, but you know, I think kids don’t really change, you know, from their basic needs

Cyril Dowling (16:54):

You know, you can, when you see kids absorbed in games with each other, you think, you know, that that’s a joy to behold, you know? Yeah. Sometimes wonder what I, I mean, I I’m, I’m just too old to imagine a world without, without, you know, learning through play. I can’t imagine it, but you know, do you see this, this, I don’t see the internet as the evil, but I do see is either you can get too much of it, but then, you know, you can also get too much of probably playing with polygon or play with Lego or wherever else you play. But you know that as you said, the hybrid world would be, would be preferable. Yeah. I hadn’t considered that before, but you’re absolutely right. There has to be a way of one complimenting the other. And, you know, cause I think they’re both really necessary. You know, people, kids are still got some to touch and feel and play and explore and you know, create, but they’ve also got to understand that they can do that online, but they’ve also got to find a way to, to both you’re absolutely right.

Heather Welch (17:50):

But even having extension work, you know, so for example, you sort of have these cards or these activities and then your children start to create their own, but then maybe there’s a way to do extension, which brings in steam or stem. You know, that, how that we’re looking at it as well. I mean, do you know what I love recently? I’ve just seen that you’ve got a whole lot of these gears and these amazing kids for stem. I mean, that’s unbelievable. It’s another, it’s an app. It’s a great way to, for education educating children as well. I think they’re fantastic.

Cyril Dowling (18:22):

We’re lucky that it’s poly drawn just falls naturally into, as a stem a product that will help you to understand and to learn and explore stem and what we’ve always done with our products. We will, you know, laterally, we have made things like our biggest kits, our engineering kit, where you can actually go out and build yourself a proper VA engine, but we encourage kids as well at the end of it to go and explore and make their own inventions. And, and we ask them to, to, to send them back to us, there’s a brilliant website called Vamsee visions. And it’s a young fellow. I think he’s probably only about, gosh, he would be about 11 or 12 and he’s become it. He doesn’t just work with Paul, John routes, a lot of other products as well, but he’s come up with some fantastic activities that we would never have considered because he’s just been creative and he’s looked at a product and made his own, you know, that sort of thing.

Cyril Dowling (19:11):

I applaud, you know, most of the best ideas for our products come from people who use it. And then come back to say, why don’t you try this? Why don’t you do this? I’ve done this. What do you think? You know, we, we, for years and years and years, we were hassled by people in the mathematics world to be able to, to construct or to chose how, how to construct, um, the, the, um, the Johnson solids and, uh, the Archimedean solids.
And we, we, we didn’t do it for a long time, cause it would meant it would’ve meant making lots of shapes or expanding. Eventually we did it. And it’s, it’s been a great thing because it makes it into a serious mathematics. Politics is also at one end, you’ve got all these very complex geometric solids that can be used and shown to work.

Cyril Dowling (19:54):

And also the other end, you’ve got the very kids just playing and making shapes and just learning very basic geometry, which is absolutely fantastic. It goes to full gamut, but sadly as well. And it’s certainly in my experience of working with Paul, John for so many years, I find that children are encouraged to play with products up to about the age of probably nine or 10. And then we stopped doing that. We sleep, we tend to be a bit more, um, based on theory rather than practice.

Many people were, when I say things like the Johnson solids and the geometric, sorry, the Archimedean solids people will know, know them and know of them, but we’ll never have had the experience of actually sitting down and making them. And I think it’s sad really that we move away from that because you still learn so much. I advocate from touching and playing, you know, but uh, those things are available farrier out there and you know, people can learn to, to make those solids and everything. So, yeah. Yeah. And I’m ranting on that, Heather on that.

Heather Welch (20:56):

Yeah. No, no, not at all. I find though that it’s, you’re right. You talk about teenagers and they don’t necessarily do a hands-on play. However, you there’s great websites in American Gainey supply and they’ve got this portal and they talk about how everyone, it’s this massive campaign talking about how everyone should play, you know, whether you’re 85 or whether you’re 15 or whether you’re three, everyone should have a playful element to them. And so it talks about changes, you know, of what you find important to play with. So, I mean, it’s just one of those interesting things. That’s what I hope. I hope I’m never too old to play, to be honest. Yeah. Yeah. Well,

Cyril Dowling (21:36):

I’m totally with you on that. And in some ways working in the business that we do, Heather, is it, I think you are playing all the time because when w when it comes to sort of framing of new products, you know, just to expand your thinking and think anything, but then you play with it to see if it works. But I guess play is kind of, is it subjective? What works for you doesn’t work for everybody else giving out to other people. We’ve had some fantastic policy over the year that we’ve invested a lot of time and effort into and put them out into the market and they haven’t worked. Can you almost take it? Firstly, when it doesn’t happen? You know, but I guess you have to sort of be more open-minded I don’t know, but you also have to be able to say that, you know, you, you never know whether a product were to a failed until, until you know, that people vote with their, with their pockets.

Cyril Dowling (22:29):

I guess this is a cynical way of saying things. But if you see kids playing with your products and enjoying it and teach seven faith and confidence in it, then you’ve done it. But, you know, anyway, but that that’s play. I think that’s play when you’re, when you’re designing new parts. When you messing about, when you’re coming up with all these crazy ideas, you know, magnets on mountains and all that sort of stuff. And then, then you know, that that’s the fun element. I mean, I, I genuinely love doing this job. I’m so, so lucky to work with such brilliant people and brilliant people.
I refer to where your kids, you know, kids, kids, they’re so honest, brutally honest at what you make and what you do. And you know, that, that to me is it’s just great fun. And every time I, I mean, I, I remember we were watching the television a couple of years ago and it was still an election Simon, David Cameron was in a school for this. It was on a six o’clock news. And, um, it was just sort of sad. He would, it, they were just following around with the cameras to do all these things. And he was sat in a school with this little boy and they were playing with magnetic pole, definitely works. It’s good enough for a politician.

Heather Welch (23:37):

Oh, that’s good. And when it’s open-ended and people can see endless possibilities is that sometimes say, people don’t necessarily understand how to use it. Do you, do you know what I’m saying? So, you know, this would be a great product, but unless they’re sort of shown and they’re showing the beauty of it, it can sometimes be a little bit, they’re looking at it thinking, I just don’t understand how this would work. You know, I think there’s more understanding now about creativity, the importance, and looking at open-ended play multiple ages, which is what, you know, Polly, John’s beautiful for play and learning. You know, you could have a three, a 10 and a two year, 3, 10, 15 year old, all building different things, the complexity, and they’re learning different stages, but they can all learn something from it, which I think is one of the most, there’s not many toys that you can say. Yeah,

Cyril Dowling (24:29):

I, when I did these workshops with children’s schools and I’ve not done them for a long time now because of where we are, you know, and I’ve done them all over the world as well. They all sort of follow a similar pattern, but you know, you, you sit down and I don’t know with magnetic pole, but also with the original Polish. And I’ve kind of have like a conspiracy that I say to the kids, you know, once you’ve unlocked the secret of poly drawn, you can do anything. And I show them how you can click these two things together and say, and I asked them, it will get a couple of pieces each and the Clinton’s going to venture to every child in the class can do it. Like I say, right now you’ve unlocked the secret of poly drawn, where you go and start creating. And then that kind of catches fire. And it’s just so good to see that, you know, to see that kind of thing happening is wonderful. You know, and it’s the same with magnetic and the kids just get so absorbed in it. I’m truly grateful the opposite as long may it continue.

Heather Welch (25:24):

Absolutely. So, so that intrinsic you, you burst intrinsic motivation of children is probably, oh, another way to say, but listen, I’ll tell you what I was going to ask you. And this is something that we’re found as well as, uh, you know, with education toys is that over the last 12 months, have you found there’s an increase in counterfeit products like counterfeit products, third party sellers, and it has it affected you to a degree [inaudible]

Cyril Dowling (25:56):

We find, we find a copy of our products pretty much every year. They’re just the ones we find. We know there’s, there’s, you know, there’s lots and lots of people send them to us. You know, they tell us about them. You know, it’s a very good industry for people being in places to say, so I’ll, I find a copy of your product, but have a look at this. You know, some of them I’ve seen or know about, you know, but I it’s, it frustrates the life because the people who make these copies, I think if they put their energies into coming up with original stuff, we’d probably be enriched by all these fantastic products. But to just get you as an copier, call it a different name. Uh, and half the time it’s rubbish stuff, you know, really, uh, really noise me. But over the years, we’ve spent so much money on taking people to court for copying your products. You know, we, we try to stop them as best we possibly can, but it is like you said, whack-a-mole is a great way to describe it, but they, um,

Cyril Dowling (26:54):

Move on and be ahead of the game or the sample creating new products. And, but still find some idea. We have to take action every now and again, but you know, and here’s the thing as well, Heather we’ve had over the years, we’ve had product sent to us. That’s that looks like our product. The people said, I bought this polygon. It doesn’t work. And I want my money back and it’s not our product. And then what we’ve done, we’ve said, look, we’re really sorry. You’ve actually bought poppy product. And we sent back some original poles in several cases. But the problem is, is when sometimes you’ll get, I mean, up to now, magnetic polygon you touch with is not being copied. Thank goodness. There’s lots of similar products out. There are very, very good. Some of them, some of them are not so good, but the danger is when you’re talking with magnets, you’re taking a massive chance.

Cyril Dowling (27:41):

Now, you know, if you buy a polygon product, it’s been tested to the very highest standards in every country that, you know, we sell it in and we sell it in many different countries. So, you know, a parent wants that assurance think that when they sit down with their children playing, they’re not going to be in any danger when, and you know, safety for us has always been the most important part. So that in itself should, would drive me to buy the original. I know when I, when my kids were young and, and we, we, you know, my, my son was absolutely addicted to Lego and you could buy lots of copies of Lego online and different places. But, you know, you knew if you bought Lego, it was going to be safe and it’s going to be right to put in his mouth and chew it, whatever they do with it. And you know, it, wasn’t the hurt

Heather Welch (28:23):

You fit in the mold. That’s the other thing. It actually fits every time. It’s the guarantee.

Cyril Dowling (28:30):

Absolutely. And, and you know that, I mean, and sometimes you couldn’t always afford to buy that, but you know, I’d never, ever compromise and buy something that was going to endanger them in any way, you know? And I think that as parents, we want the best for our children all the time. And no one, honestly, even if I couldn’t afford it, I’d rather go without them buy something. That’s a copy because I’m in the business. But

Heather Welch (28:52):

Yeah, but that’s when we ask, you know, what’s your tip because when you go online these days, you know, there’s all these great marketplaces there’s third-party sellers. And sometimes you don’t know, and if you’re not in the industry, you don’t really know, you just think, oh God price, okay. No, yes, we can afford this. We can get double the size, but, you know, we don’t necessarily know if it’s been tested and can it get through the border? Actually, yes, it can still get through the border, which we’re finding without the testing that we as organizations have to do. So what’s your top tips to look out for, for parents, caregivers, teachers, when looking at these online marketplaces, what can you look for to make sure that it’s safe for our classroom, for our home or anything like that?

Cyril Dowling (29:32):

Well, I mean, obviously I go to, this is, think about the reputable dealers. And if you put stuff on Amazon, it’s not, I believe if it’s not safety test, it won’t get on there. Anyway, if it’s not up to a certain standard, I would tend to trust that I would also, you know, look at that there’s different website, there’s toy, safety’s regulations that you can read from the British government. There’s also a toy safety website in the USA. You can check out.
And also, I mean, you can go direct to manufacturers and ask. I mean, if anyone asked to see our safety, cause we’d always willingly show them where we are. And it’s so difficult, Heather, because as you say, there are so many copies, there are so many people selling stuff and just don’t care about the consequences afterwards. But I think you’ve just got to stick with the recognized brands and I don’t want to do anybody down. Cause I know it takes a long time to get a brand off the ground. But you know, you need to know as a parent that that front is safe, check it up, look it up. I, I just wouldn’t, I wouldn’t entertain something that I couldn’t find some sort of history on the product and read the reviews and all that kind of thing. You know? So I, I dunno, it’s, it’s a very difficult thing, but I I’m, I’m at a loss to say, what is 100% foolproof and not buying a, you know, a product that

Heather Welch (30:48):

Research, as you’re saying, research, look at brands, look at, make sure that if it’s too cheap, maybe sometimes it is too cheap. It’s probably one of the things to look at as well. It’s too good to be true. Listen, now there’s something that you haven’t spoken about yet that I would love to have even just a quick conversation with you about is that now your own accomplished author and our listeners would love to hear about your book. Now I have to say cold. It shouldn’t happen to a rep, the hideous and hilarious tales of a holiday rep. Now you have to explain this even just for a minute or two

Heather Welch (31:26):

Definitely not. This is amazing. No,

Cyril Dowling (31:29):

I, I was, um, I’ve been from all my life. I’ve, I’ve always been an avid diary keeper. Sadye I’m not, not every single day, but you know, I, I very seldom go a week without writing something down. When I got a job overseas working for a company called Thompson holidays who are last no more. I knew that many people wanted to do that job. And I was very lucky to get it. And I thought, I’m going to, I’m going to keep a diary here and I’m going to publish it. And I really thought from day one, I would publish, I just read a book by, I’ve got a man from Australia called Clive James. If you ever read any of his stuff, he wrote a brilliant book called falling towards the night. I could hear his voice in it. And I wanted to sort of reproduce that style for a long were short.

Cyril Dowling (32:10):

But that, that was what inspired me. And I’m going to write, I’m going to write a book. I knew in my heart of hearts, I would get published. So in this crazy life of living overseas and working as a representative for holiday company, I think you could take photographs, but they don’t quite there. They’re sort of two dimensional your welfare on the subject, but an explanation, a diary makes it three-dimensional look inside the heads and the behavior of people, why they do things. And that was what I did. I just kept this diary. And then, you know, at the end of, I think it was come to about been through that with them. I was only gonna do it for six months after nine years, I, I took this, uh, massive notes. I’d written handwritten to a publisher in the UK and they said, I’ll leave it on the pilot over there.

Cyril Dowling (32:51):

And then I thought, well, you’ll probably just be rejected at hand, but then about three days did for me back say, we love this. We want to publish it. You know, once you have more books, do you, but, so that was it. It was, was off, it was published. It sold a few thousand copies. I was very, very lucky and still sells to this day, you know, but very, very lucky. And what was amazing about it? Is it, I mean, when it first came out, it was fantastic to see you work on the shelf to see I was so someone would you briefly once. And I went in, sat with them. I wrote that. And if this just thought it was completely insane, but you know, it was such a thrill to see it see on the shelves and see in airports. But it’s just, just, it was a lovely thing to do, but I get, I get, um, royalties still twice a year, but obviously it diminished over the years because it was published, I think in 2002.

Cyril Dowling (33:38):

And, um, obviously it was good sales at the beginning and he got less and less and less and gets no publicity where most of the stuff now comes from Kindle sales, but I still get these royalties and I take my family out for a meal, but the last one was actually a McDonald’s. So I think we have to go without, and just some cheeseburger with no chips, but you know, that, that’s how the role has diminished over the years. But, you know, still, still I’m I’m I haven’t, I haven’t read it or anything for a long, long, long time. And you know, I can’t remember exactly what’s in there, but I do know it’s a great feeling whenever, whatever I see out there, you know, so yeah, I loved it. It was brilliant. I’m very pleased to have done it in my life. You know, it’s very lucky. So

Heather Welch (34:20):

It’s amazing to be habit, do you know, published, but also it’s amazing to have it as a memory of your fridge, the start of your traveling around the world, not only talking about play, but you were dealing with probably, maybe, maybe adults that behave like children at times,

Cyril Dowling (34:36):

Absolutely kicked into the adults. Never grew up with someone would say, I never did really just to do that job, but you know, it, it, it’s such a fun job and it’s changed the world’s not the same as it used to be. Nobody, nobody, well, some people still go and package those, but not, I mean, I think in our height we were taking, I think, 4 million people away in the summer and it was just an amazing life to live. It was brilliant. And it was almost like, uh, I, I, when I was there, I, you learn so much about yourself as well. When you’re doing these kinds of jobs, you see, it should be like a national service. Everybody should go work overseas and, you know, deal with the great British public when there are brokers that were curious fudge believe wonderful. I have to say as well, what happens?

Cyril Dowling (35:17):

Like liking the job we do, Heather, you know what, when you know, we, we, you and I very often we could sit together in different parts of the world and talk about the job we do. And we remember all the people that they’re a bit unusual that might cause us a bit of a problem or a bit of an issue. You know, we don’t remember all the fantastically good ones. You’ve been, you know, 99% of the people who are just brilliant, you know, so, and, and that that’s really what the book is about, but back that 1% really. So yeah,

Heather Welch (35:50):

We love to hear about it as a listener. Um, Sarah, how can our listeners hear more about poly drawn, getting touch if they’ve got, or even just learn more,

Cyril Dowling (36:00):

You know, look at our website, www polygon.com, you know, loads of information on there. You can contact us. You can Google me or find me on LinkedIn. If anybody wants to talk about poly drawn, talk about what we do or anything we’ve spoken about. So we’re more than happy to sorts of them. We’re a very, um, very approachable, a bunch of people. Um, we, we, we, we want to engage with, with our customers, our, and the people. Who’ve got an opinion about Paul Love to hear from you. So please, you know, look at our website, look at our Facebook page, look at our LinkedIn, where wadeable swore the normal channels. And, you know, I will be more than happy and, and all my brilliant team as well. And we have got every, sorry, I know I’m going on here. But every, every company is only as good as the people that work for them.

Cyril Dowling (36:45):

We have got some of the best people. We’ve been very, very lucky, brilliant salespeople, brilliant marketeers, and really good, you know, support staff. So, and, and I, I’m so lucky to work with them. I really genuinely mean that I’m not just, you know, giving them a shower. I think we’ve, we’ve got the best team we’ve ever had, and I’m not going to name them individually, but they are brilliant. They, they, they, they make us a company that we are, I go out and talk about it and, you know, meet lovely people, but they’re the ones who make it happen. And just to say, I’m proud to wear it.

Heather Welch (37:14):

So I have to say, I agree. You can please. Um, Polly, Don’s got an amazing, you’ve got an amazing staff is actually one of the first companies I met when I started in the industry, um, yourself, Darren, and reach the, some of the first few people that I met when I started with edX education, man, it feels like many years ago, but not quite. So I have to say, thank you so much for, um, talking with us today, talking to you, talking about, you know, what I love Polly John’s favorite toys, the safety, I think the really good thing to understand, and also about the book, your career and things like that. So I really appreciate you talking to us today. So still darling from poly, John, thank you so much. And we hope to cross paths. So we hope to see you in person soon. It’s been

Cyril Dowling (38:00):

A real pleasure. Thank you very much. And for the record, I love your companies are brilliant company that they show us the way on so many different things. So thank you very much.

Heather Welch (38:10):

There are so many exciting developments happening right now in education edX education. We’d love to hear from you. So do get in touch with us, subscribe to our podcast, which is available on apple or beams, Spotify tune-in. And so many more, this podcast series is brought to you by Heather. Well TriMedX education. The she’d like to say that’s create lifelong learners.