Thursday, February 8, 2007

What Video Games Have to Teach us: Learning and Identity

In the third chapter of his book James Paul Gee demonstrates, using a role playing video game as the contextual setting, how learning can best be done if the learner creates an identity with which to pursue the material. In real life he uses the example of a school-child learning science who should take on the role of the scientist. Within this imaginary role when the child make mistakes the consequences they suffer will be smaller-than-life, while the experience they gain larger. On page 65 he suggests three requirements to learning, the learner "must be enticed to try [and] to put in lots of effort [which] must issue in success at the appropriate level." They must give "values, desires, choices, goals, and actions" to their 'virtual' identity, for "this is what creates ownership."
I think Gee's ideas are profound, learning is my favorite thing to do, as such I am, and always will be, an avid supporter. The point he made about video game creators being more equipped to entice players than teachers to students is astounding, but sadly very true. They have to sell a product, they have to entice, they research means to get the job done. In the case of educators none of these things are true, and may educators have merely given up, claiming, in Gee's words, "It's too bad, but that's just the way school is and, indeed, life is." It's too bad that administrators and teachers don't look for ways of innovation, to me it seems the only field left that isn't taking such a path, creativity and innovation are the present as well as the future. Education seems to be stuck in the past.

Gee, James Paul. "Learning and Identity." What Video Games have to Teach us about Learning and Literacy. 2003. Palgrave Macmillan: New York, NY.

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