What about playing as learning? Or for learning? Education has ignored one highly important strategy when it comes to learning- the game, or more specifically, the video game. When I was growing up, I had a Commodore 64 and played Lemonade Stand and Lunar Landing, both of which were games that required me to take in information, make judgements and execute a plan. (i.e., think critically)
If “gamers learn about the game world literally through their controller” (Squire, 2008) why don’t our students have that same kind of resiliency when it comes to school work? It seems that a growth mindset is innate in students when approaching a new video game but yet school work seems unattainable. Why is that? If gaming is learning by doing, learning through failure, and learning through trial and error, then why don’t schools approach learning that way? In theory, I think that is exactly what is school is SUPPOSED to be like. However, we have constructed it such that we award success and punish failure by assigning grades.
So why don’t we start reframing the way we teach to the way students learn? Perhaps gaming can be an example for educators. Video games can be highly collaborative, cooperative and social, just look to Minecraft as an example for how a video game can be used in the classroom. Teachers are beginning to use this game all over the world to inspire students and get them collaborating and building, incorporating it into math and history lessons. Also popular, SimCity is where users actions and decisions affect the success or failure of their community. Students invest in these games because they get to create their own experience; they create, make choices and then adjust. They learn through experience, they learn through doing- a constructivist theory.
Food for thought: Why can’t we use games to teach? Why can’t we incorporate play into classroom activities? The answer is we can. We, as educators, need to start incorporating games into the curriculum- physical games, academic games and video games if we are going to foster 21st century skills. And it is imperative that we start now.
Squire, K. (2008). Critical Education in an Interactive Age. In Mirror Images: Popular Culture and Education (pp. 105-123). New York: Peter Lang.