Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Gaming to teach literacy?

Interesting article here entitled Is Gaming the New Essential Literacy?   At first I read the article to find fault with it but the author has a point.  "They are learning a new interactive language that grants them access to virtual worlds that are filled with intrigue, engagement and meaningful challenges."  And for someone interested in literacy education, I cannot ignore this growing trend.

Games do a good job of teaching problem solving.  But their content is sometimes severely lacking.  And the English teacher in me can moan about the lack of depth and content all day long-- the fact remains kids love to play games and we as teachers would be remiss not to capitalize on that love. "Although video games have great potential to be powerful vehicles for learning, there is no guarantee this will happen. Just as there is no guarantee that someone will understand the themes and symbols of The Lord of the Flies by simply reading it"  I've never of it in this way but this is very true.

I am still bothered when I see kids just sitting in front of a computer screen staring seemingly mindlessly at a screen.  I am sure their brains are working on the problem solving end of the game.  But I would rather see them reading and thinking about what they are reading -- developing the long term thinking skills rather than the short term, quick attention spans kids seem to all have these days.

The article concludes with a good point about adults getting involved in games, too, so we know what is out there.  He compares it to not being able to discuss Lord of the Flies if you haven't read it.  Guess that's true!

So I'm curious--what's the status of gaming in your school?  My library has a strict no games policy but only because of the lack of computers.  I can't justify someone playing a game when I have kids who need to finish homework in the mornings before school.  But maybe when it's not terribly crowded in the mornings, I need to start turning a blind eye --I'll just have to remind myself they are learning to problem solve.

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