I recently heard a speaker at a conference that talked about the purpose of education. He made several points but here are a few for framing my thoughts today.
1. Education needs to leave the “factory” model behind. The system was set up and work well for our country 65 years ago but today we need something different.
2. Students use very little of the information that they learn in school. Who really knows that the 100 years war was 116 years? And who really cares. I think about my high school experience. Physics…not using it. Pre-Calc…not using it. Chemistry…not using it.
3. Students do not need to be hindered by “grade level.” We are way to caught up in some kid reading at “grade level.” And if they are at grade level…..then we basically leave them alone instead of encouraging them to excel.
4. Consider this from what the business world wants from employees. Employees must be able to think creatively, to communicate both verbally and in writing, must be able to organize, must be able to allocate time, allocate money, to multi task, work cooperatively and many more. Where do most kids get these kinds of experience in school? Anyone…….anyone……Bueller…….Bueller…….Students get most of these experiences in extra curricular activities.
After digesting the thoughts of this speaker I did realize one thing. Computer games put students in an environment in which they will think critically, where they will work cooperatively, where they will problem solve and use oral and written communications. I don’t think I do anything in the classroom that addresses more of what the business world wants in an employee at a single time than playing computer games.
However, do schools still need to teach physics…..yes. Not every one needs or will use it but the ones that will use it need to start the learning process as early as possible. Not everyone uses a foreign language in their life but more and more schools are introducing foreign language early in the educational process instead of waiting until high school. So I guess all of this is just another plug from gaming in the classroom. It does change the way we do school. It encourages kids to use skills that employers want. And it does not have any consideration for “grade level.” I will have some more thoughts this summer as I prepare for a speaking engagement that I have in July.