Letting Go

Presensky SlideI’ve had an interesting exchange with Marco Polo (Autono Blogger), through comments on a blog I posted a couple of days ago, Some Quotes from Presentation Slides. The quotes were from various presentation slides I’ve capture over the last many weeks with my digital camera. One set of quotes implies that we should allow our students to take the lead in what and how they learn. Here are the quotes, which are from a Marc Prensky presentation.

Does everything we do have great engagement and gameplay?
Would kids spend their own money for it?

Does everything we do empower our students?
Would kids do it in their leisure time?

Does everything we do change our students’ behavior, beliefs & attitudes for the better?
Would they make their friends do it?

It is common to believe that institutions are part of the problem, that we need to break them, and allow students to rebuild their learning experience. This is a dangerous notion, although there is much about it that is true, in my opinion. Still, Marco, in his latest comment, says:

The difficulty I see and face, is that, probably due to their incarceration in high school, my students have developed bad study habits and self-sabotaging behaviour. I’ve tried letting them take the lead, but that didn’t really work – they just think I’m goofing off, then they goof off too, and nothing productive gets done.

Read the entire exchange

It is a fine line that we walk, razor fine.

One of the most compelling ideas that came out of Got Game (by John Beck and Mitchell Wade) and the media around it, was the role of the boss. In many video games, the player must face a large and powerful monster before moving to the next level. The next level is where they want to be, and they will fight that monster again, and again, and again, until they learn how to get past him. That monster is always called, the boss.

To the video game generation, the boss is someone who is a barrier between the player and where the player wants to be. Beck suggests that the supervisor (or teacher) should instead become the strategy guide or cheat sheet, a document players download from the Net or purchase in video game stores. They include shortcuts through the barriers of the game.

Perhaps our challenge, as teachers, is to compellingly define and describe that next level, create a place where the players want to be. If we do it right, then our students will come to us for the short cuts (curriculum) that help them get there. Classroom learning, will always require a leader. But is it better to push a stalled car, or steer one that has someplace to go.

Author: David Warlick

David Warlick has been an educator for the past 40+ years. He continues to do some writing, but is mostly seeking his next intersect between play, passion and purpose, dabbling in photography, drone videography and music production.