Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Potty Passes, Fahrenheit 451 and Gamification

I am thinking about how ridiculous it all is. I just reread Shawn Cornally's post on Potty Passes where he tells the story of students getting extra credit for turning in their unused potty passes. How meaningless grades have become. 

Then, since my IPad was out of batteries I had to read a real book last night and ironically, I picked up Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. The part that hit me was when Beatty is explaining to Montag about how all this book burning got started. There was so much information that people couldn't digest it all, so they had to make it simpler and everyone was so confused that somehow they figured out that life would be better without all of this material that was worthy of deep thought. They needed to present things in quick, easy to figure out ways. 

Then last week I watched a TedTalks video on using games in education or Gamification. (While I am writing this either 1, 2 or all 3 of my sons are playing some horrible game on the XBox in our attic). Ok, now this one really bugged me. The games have such quick resolutions and everything moves so fast and this guy says that this helps kids learn. Learn what? Not how to do real problem solving. Where is the deep thinking here? 

I like video games, I was once really addicted to Frogger (in the early 90s),  I stayed up until 4 am playing it. I've been addicted to other games too, like Scrabble. I've gotten a lot better at Scrabble since I've been playing it on the computer but mostly because I've learned words like xi and za and how to maximize my points. 

Now to pull all of this together, potty passes, Ray Bradbury and gaming. I don't want to be a part of making Fahrenheit 451 come true, I want there to be real books and front porches and good deep thinking, even if it seems boring to my computer crazed kids. They have to know that it isn't about points and getting to the next level. It is about something a lot more beautiful and meaningful and it is worth doing.

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