Why schools should be like video games | part 1
“Through games, we can get kids experimenting, exploring and discovering freely and perhaps through doing so, get them to love learning rather than fear it.”
Often teachers only have a very limited amount of time, just enough to grade the work they give out. They can’t be giving the type of instantaneous feedback that students need to be able to rapidly iterate on problems and test out new solutions or theories they might have, and that’s absolutely not the fault of teachers, but it is an artifact of our educational system’s past that persists into today. When our educational system was created nearly 200 years ago, this sort of drill was the only option, and schooling itself was preparing young people to enter careers that were much more dependent than learning things by rote, factory work, basic shopkeeping. It was preparing them for a world where you couldn’t just look up something on the Internet or pop onto Wikipedia. Today on the other hand, we need to prepare students to find innovative solutions. We need to prepare them to apply the limitless data we have in front of us to solve whatever problem is at hand. It doesn’t matter if it’s a job in IT or the most esoteric medical research, almost all of our decent jobs today require innovation. They require you to find answers to problems you’ve never seen before and for that, you need to see failure as an opportunity to learn rather than something to be afraid of.
Today with computers and especially with games, we provide the opportunity to take a lot of the workload off teachers to free them up to actually teach instead of being tied up in the busy work of grading homework that could be done by a machine, a machine that could respond instantly and tell the students the moment they try something whether or not they’re correct. With games, especially digital ones, we provide the opportunity to create that rapid feedback cycle that allows students to focus on iterating on their mistakes and learning through their failures. We don’t simply present them with assessments but rather use our assessment time not only to assess but to provide learning opportunities. When somebody asks you why we should consider using games in schools, absolutely tell them how much more engaging we can make the classroom, but that’s something they probably already know.
Also tell them that we can finally do away with a classroom that instills in students a fear of failure, that we can finally be done with a classroom environment that discourages students from taking risks that lead to discovery and instead prepare them to innovate for the future, that we can free teachers of the burden of creating rote homework and instead let them focus on their real job, teaching, that through games, we can get kids experimenting, exploring and discovering freely and perhaps through doing so, get them to love learning rather than fear it.