No Games. No Fun. Focus. Read. Write. Memorize the facts. Really?!?! As I am planning for my first “end of the year” I have asked other educators what will happen the last few days of school. The answer I often get is that we’ll be done with learning then and will mostly be playing games.
Done learning? Just playing games?
A traditional view of education says that a teacher’s job is to impart wisdom and facts to the students, and the student’s job is to learn what they are taught. Christopher Lehmann, the principal at the Science Leadership Academy in Philadelphia, PA says, “society has evolved past that, schools haven’t yet.” As John Dewey said, “If we teach today’s students as we taught yesterday’s, we rob them of tomorrow”. Today’s students no longer need to survive in a one dimensional work world, but need to be able to “navigate in a buzz of confusion.”
PBS’s video Digital Media* New Learners of the 21st Century explores the new face of learning today. As the program explores a variety of different cutting edge educational programs across the US, I find one idea connects all the various concepts. The students see the approaches as games. Fun, engaging games.
Taking this approach, the Quest 2 Learn school in New York, NY bases all learning on games. “A game is a problem space. All a video game is is a set of problems that you must solve to win.” At the Smithsonian Institute students are now using cell phones to create scavenger games to interact with museum artifacts. In most settings games also lead to group interaction. According to John Seely Brown, “One of the best ways to learn something is to teach something. In peer based collaboration you are both learning and teaching.”
This approach of games as instruction can address more than motivation and interest. James Gee of Arizona State University says, “If a learning system is well designed you don’t finish it without the guarantee that you’ve learned it already…Learning & assessment are the same thing. The learning system assesses itself.” This would eliminate the need for stressful, high stakes, time and money consuming testing. And that’s just a side benefit.