A good friend brought this video to my attention, and I must say, I was incredibly impressed by Zichermann’s presentation, by the concepts of fluid intelligence and gamification. I am a traditionalist (as noted on other occasions), I am one of those people who idealise sitting by a window with a cup of tea and a book, but I realise that such a situation is not for everyone, and particularly that it is not for many of the kids who are in our schools and our libraries right now.
As Zichermann notes, the kids of the twenty-first century are used to a much faster pace of life than what we are giving them in our schools. Teachers and educators all around the world never stop talking about the importance of learning, of adapting teaching strategies to suit the students of today. And yet we still expect them to sit still in a classroom for 40-120 minutes at a time, focussing on the one voice, and a generally stagnant presentation of information. When they’re at home these same kids, who we say cannot focus, cannot sustain attention for long periods of time, are able to sit at a computer or play a Wii for hours at a time, completely oblivious to the world around them. Maybe, just maybe, it is not the kids who are wrong, but the teachers?
I’m not saying that we should completely throw away traditional methods of teaching. And I am certainly not saying that we should encourage students to spend more time at computers (there’s this amazing thing called the outdoors – go experience it!)… What I am trying to say is that, if we are truly serious about meeting students on their terms, at their level, then maybe using games in the classroom is the way to go. There are hundreds of games out there that are aimed at increasing knowledge and understanding, maybe it is time that educators started to use them. Time that they started to practically think outside the box, rather than just talking about doing it all of the time.
So let’s start thinking practically, let’s start working out how to incorporate games into the school curriculum, alongside more traditional methods if need be. If implementing games into the curriculum in some way can increase student knowledge, understanding and intelligence, then I can think of no reason why we shouldn’t give it a go. Helping students to learn to the best of their ability, preparing them for the rest of their lives, is the most important thing that we will ever do. And the rest of their lives are going to be spent in a world that is increasingly more technologically, and gaming, focussed.