Some may say that my understanding (or lack thereof) of video games is a generational thing. No, I’m not a 35 year old gamer who thinks he is the conquerer of the Armageddon of knowledge and inspiration. I’ve been to a few rodeos in my day and as I’m prone to say to those who doubt my perspective, “I’ve learned to… sip…brandy…”. Some things really do take time to develop. Using my time to beat a game seems pointless to me. It seems even more pointless because I don’t see the transfer of focus required of gaming making my students more focused and goal oriented. But it does beg the question: Does gaming make for braver teachers?
OK- clearly I’m biased. My frustration with gaming is this: as a high school math teacher, I am presented with classrooms of students who need to be told exactly what to do next. Now this may be an occurrence that is only happening within my own small realm, but I suspect not. What does this have to do with gaming? When I watch the diligence with which my students pursue success within a game (the research, the collaboration between them, the undefinable self-driven effort they dedicate to beating a game), I wonder where all that energy for learning goes once they hit the classroom. Why can they muster hours and hours of focus, day after day, to just beating a game? Clearly the answer is to bring gaming into the classroom; #gamification. This, of course, makes perfect sense because who doesn’t like to do things that are fun?
Again, don’t misunderstand me. I understand that gaming is fun. I understand the social side of it. I really do. I promise. But as a teacher, as an aspiring administrator, I can’t help but feel immense frustration that as educators, we don’t absolutely embrace this idea of using gaming to provide a platform for exploration within our classrooms. Many of us continue to take our classes through the same old teacher led drudgery that’s been around since…. I was a kid. So the question I’ve been asking myself is, Why are some teachers brave?
I have a sense of even greater frustration when I see new teachers who can’t muster the bravery to really tackle this new pedagogy. Perhaps I’ve always had this innovator streak in me. My mother could never understand how or why I was always willing to propose a better way to do something. I have always had the inquisitor gene. Can we do this better? Is there a tweak that will make this idea pop? As I wrote in my previous post, given the time, I was able to embrace the brisk and engaging world of Twitter. Twitter has great classroom applications. For example, using Twitter to conduct a formative assessment or online discussion. Or sending reminders or posting a video on your favorite polynomial video. (Sorry… it’s the math in me… 🙂
Perhaps its because being ‘brave’, being willing to bring a new idea to the table requires the disruptor personality factor. (I can assure you that my parents understood that oh too well!) More often than not, I was surrounded by non-disruptors. Same old, same old was fine and why do we need to find a new or better way that takes me away from the same old, same old…
Twitter changed that. Twitter connects me with other disruptors and encourages me to be brave; it keeps me from giving up when I feel unheard. Twitter keeps me inspired and makes me look for ways to accomplish things, all sorts of things. It even connects me to others who think that Minecraft has a place in the math and physics classrooms. Really, How Cool Is That?