School Teaches Students Through Video Games6th Graders in Manhattan are stealthing around Athens as Spartan spies in order to find their enemy’s weaknesses. They aren’t sitting in a World History class memorizing facts about the Peloponnesian War, such as the date: 431 – 404 B.C. or how many troops landed in Sicily and at what point during the war, etc. etc. They are instead immersed in the action through video game.
Now, they probably aren’t planning Spartan: Total War on Xbox as I’ve show here, but I can bet that you’d probably have preferred even PAC MAN to history lessons when you were a kid.
I didn’t learn anything in my World History class. Granted, mine wasn’t in the 6th grade – we were still rehashing and re-memorizing dull facts about American History back then, such as reciting all the Presidents names in order. My World History class came in high school, where I still failed to learn anything because the teacher was a recent hire, who – as happens in small town schools – had more of an interest in the girls’ basketball and softball teams than he did in actually “teaching.”
I happened to have a lasting-childish obsession with Greek Mythology, that started when I was in 6th or 7th grade, so I knew the Greek Mythology, at least, even if I didn’t know the history. I learned my history later in life through the History Channel. People would laugh at me when I couldn’t tell them what country Persia had become or what historical figures were linked to the Hanging Gardens. These were things they had learned early on, things that I had never gotten to study.
I think it’s remarkable that a school is embracing our society’s video game culture FINALLY. It seems like it’s been this vast store of resource just waiting to be mined. Video games have always captured the minds of children in the way that learning never has… When children out-grow “make-believe” they turn to video games instead to escape to that world of fantasy. They do this by choice, willingly. If that can somehow be used to teach children, then it’s perfect because children will be willingly participating in their own educations. There won’t be any need for participation grades in order to force children to interact with the subject and/or the other students.
I will admit, I have my doubts regarding the ability to teach math or english through video games. Children can spot an “Education Video Game” from a million miles away, and they’re not always willing to give it a chance, most of the time they even flat out refuse to play it. I can see the merits in History and possibly even Social Sciences – you can learn a lot about sociology just through games like Civilization.
But maybe children are so technologically-minded these days that they’ll be more inclined to learn from educational games. I commend this school for the bold chances they’re taking with this kind of pedagogy but if it’s successful, I think it’ll be a very positive thing. As advanced as we’re becoming as a society, it seems only fitting that our methods of education advance with us.
Or maybe I just think it’s really cool since I love video games…