The single worst thing we ever did in education is remove the element of play.
Maybe in the 19th century, education without play was effective. Maybe. But keep in mind, that was a time where...
-children were essentially being prepped to work in factories. And by children, I mean boys. Girls were obviously going to be housewives and mothers, so if they didn't learn it wasn't such a big deal
-school wasn't mandatory. If you felt your kids would be better served by staying home and working the farm, more power to you.
-the stakes were lower. You didn't have to choose a career as your focus with the knowledge that if you changed your mind, you were in for about six more years of expensive training. But in the end, your occupational choices were fairly limited, anyway. Many jobs were hereditary. Many people didn't work at all. Families and groups were small and contained, with little need for collaboration or creativity as people adhered to traditions.
So much has changed that it's impossible for us to keep going back to a factory model of education, saying "this worked for my grandparents, and it WILL work for you!"
So where does play come in?
When we look at how education has changed, there are so many demands not just on kids, but on adults. We're expected to have more wide spread knowledge of intricate concepts. Remember, not that long ago, you only knew how to drive if you were a member of a very specific group (chauffeurs, farmers, or the very rich and bored). And if you DID drive, you knew everything there was to know about cars, because you had to. How many of us can say that now? Or have the first idea how the technology we use every day functions?
My point is, there's a lot to know. And while the basics still matter, we're no longer just imparting knowledge -- if we ever were. We're teaching students with full awareness that many of the things they're learning will be rendered obsolete by the time they graduate. So why still do it? Because the focus has shifted from learning facts to learning how to think. A well educated student will be able to adjust to new ideas, concepts, and technology by using the skills they've learned in other situations.
All of which brings me back to play.
How do kids learn? By exploring. By doing. In other words, by playing. If we encourage kids to view learning as fun, by making play an integral part of the educational experience, we create adults who embrace challenges, who will not be afraid of new problems, technology, and ideas.
So next time you see your kid playing a video game, or your students come in talking about Call of Duty, take a deep breath before you panic, and try looking at it from a different angle. What are they learning? What is their play teaching them? And -- as a sneaky teacher -- how can you capitalize on those concepts?Tweet
Question of the Day:
What's a time you've learned through play?
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It's an old example, but I always think of trying fights in video games over and over. I try something and I die. I consider what happened, I choose a new strategy, and I adapt. Depending on the game, I may eventually realize that I'm playing at too high a level, and make the decision to go and level up -- to learn and grow more -- before I take on this challenge again. To me, this is the high level learning and decision making we want our students to show!
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|Doing Video Games in Education the Right Way|