In our rush to embrace technology in schools there has been a sticking point that has given me some logistical difficulty, and that’s been the integration of Gaming in the classroom. I haven’t been outright dismissive of the idea, simply wary, and until this point mildly perplexed as to why. I believe I’m still associating gaming with locking myself alone in Mom’s basement after school and spending hours playing Sonic the Hedgehog. Despite the nearly two decades since, and a massively increased sophistication and social revolution in gaming, I still only see that little blue hedgehog running blindly across a screen...perhaps to a pharmacy to pick up a Ritalin prescription.
But that’s such an obsolete view of what gaming can mean to a classroom, and I’m beginning to grasp this. Fortunately this is not a new revelation to my colleague, Zack Blashkiw, and you can read his insightful thoughts on the matter here. Zack is right to point out that gaming communities are consistently at the forefront of new avenues for online socialization, and in turn that socialization is key to integrating a relevant teaching program to today’s youth. Far from the rudimentary number and language “games” filling the tech classes of yore, modern games (particularly those implementing level-building) encourage spatial reasoning, resource management, social collaboration, higher logic, etc. In the time it took me to write those examples the list probably grew half a page.
It occurs to me now that my prejudice towards gaming was based on the belief that games were based solely on fun, and so in turn their educational usefulness must be minimal. How silly that was, to assume that kids have to feel or even know that they’re being taught in order to learn something.
This evening I spent some time observing my nephew, turning four this October, and marveled at the way he uses his mother’s laptop. It’s intuitive, cautious and delicate, qualities immediately abandoned in literally every other aspect of his daily life. His is the generation I will be beginning my teaching career with, and in many ways they’re going to be lightyears ahead of us. Yet If his teachers keep an open mind, just imagine how much fun it could be.
Special thanks to @crutherford for supplying the video inspiring these musings. Please give it a look.