|The best that my mobile phone’s camera could do in the dim light of the stage.|
I’m back from an especially stressful speaking trip involving two very exciting regional conferences. The biggest reason for the stress was a freak snow storm in Chicago that almost prevented me from making it to Friday’s conference outside of Rochester. I made it, but with only two hours of sleep before the conference. The keynote, Redefining Literacy…, went well, speaking from the set of “The Beauty & the Beast”, the play that the high school is currently preparing for.
Then I had a very interesting extended session with educators from two vocational and technical schools in the region. Although many of the attendees were obvious technology users and advocates, I got the impression that some were fairly resistant to the changes that are happening around us. Still, I was very pleased with the session, as I facilitated a discussion, that seemed to lead into all of the things that I was hoping to teach anyway. Facilitated discussions do not always work out that well.
In review, here are some of the salient points that came out of this discussion.
- We live in a time of rapid change.
- No one, more than teachers, should be “life-long-learners”.
- The shape of information is changing, as we are beginning to train information to find us.
- We need to be paying attention (to our world, to our students).
- Students are coming into our classrooms with amazing learning skills. We need to learn to tap into them.
- Turn our classrooms into learning economies and education engines..
- Allow students to make themselves experts and to share what the teach themselves.
One teacher apologetically suggested that the video games, and machinima that I was showing was too violent, that it makes her nervous to see kids engaged in such violent behavior. I told her that it was tag to them, that I watch my own children and their friends, and the seem very happy and very well adjusted people. More times than not, my son is playing games that they have invented themselves inside of the gaming environment. I think that this is called Emergent Gameplay.
But she later pointed out that the children I am referring to are likely being raised in loving families that are providing healthy guidance and care. A fair point, that points to lingering concerns that I have, as well. I would (glibly) suggest that we have bigger problems than video games, but that isn’t really fair to the daily endeavors of teachers.
What I wish I had thought to say is that:
In 2002, Nintendo alone invested more than $140,000,000 (USD) in research and development. That same year, the U.S. Federal Government spent less than half that much on Research & Innovation (in education).*
I maintain, that these games, even many of the violent ones, are where our children are learning their higher order thinking skills. The nature of the game, however, follows the money.
I’m sure I’ll have more to say about telling the new story, once I have a chance to listen to the recent International Skypcast on Defining and Telling the New Story
* “2002 Annual Report for Nintendo Company, Ltd” Corporate Info Nentendo Company, Ltd. 27 Apr. 2003 <http://www.nintendo.com/corp/report/financialstatements_5-30-02.pdf>
“FY 2004 Budget for the United States Government” U.S. Department of Education U.S. Department of Education. 27 Apr. 2003 <http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/budget/index.html>