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Tue, Nov. 6th, 2007, 01:15 pm
Games and Classrooms

I’m taking this class on the psychology of learning which has been, so far, spotty (to say the least!). Sadly it’s a required class for the department, as otherwise I would have dropped it after the first day. While the reading list is solid, the classes have mostly been the instructor ranting; I haven’t actually learned a thing.

What’s awesome, though, is that the students have stepped up to make the class worth attending. We’ve more or less taken over the class sessions with student presentations, which have ranged from interesting to stellar. For example, the students presenting on language learning went out to interview students in bilingual programs in the New York City schools, and then showed us video clips from the interviews. So even though the class sucks, I’m really liking the people who are in it, and the things I’m learning about what they’re all expert in.

My contribution to the class was a presentation on “Seven Tensions Between Games and Classrooms,” which is a formalized version of my basic rant against thoughtless, poorly designed “educational” games. It was a hell of a lot of fun to give the presentation! But even better, the instructor got really into it, so next week we’ll be spending class down in the game lab, playing games of all kinds. I think my classmates are pretty excited that we’ll be doing something hands-on. And for that matter, who doesn’t like to play games?

I just think it’s funny, though, that as a result of my talk about why the modern American classroom is a terrible place for play … we’re going to go play games during class. So I’ve been chuckling to myself all day!