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Game-changing News?

Increasing his capacity to think?

In a BBC article published online this week, a study of 14-year old boys revealed that the brain’s “reward hub” was larger in regular players. What does this mean for education and the advancement of “game theory?”

Implications fall on both the positive and negative ends of the spectrum. This reward hub, known by scientists as the ventral striatum, is strongly associated with emotional and motivational aspects of behavior.

On the positive side, recent studies of teens who are regular gamers indicate improved reasoning over their non-gaming counterparts. This is exciting news for teachers if it holds true! This means that when we make learning like video games, our students learn to think more effectively and make quicker decisions that are logic-based. However, I can’t help but wonder which games were played by the teens during this study. Was it Brain Age? Or Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3? Seems like that could impact the results.

On the negative side, scientists believe this same reward hub is also responsible for determining a person’s predisposition to addiction disorders. Could it be possible that, by using gaming theory in the classroom, teachers could ultimately be contributing to a problem? Are we pushing our kids toward Internet or Video Game addiction?

I don’t think either finding is 100% accurate for the entire teen population. It’s really a “Which came first: the chicken or the egg?” question. Do video games improve reasoning while increasing addictive tendency? Or are already good thinkers with addictive tendencies more likely to become gamers? I think we may never get a definitive answer. And I think the chicken – and the egg – agree with me on that.

Who will win the age old debate?

The remaining question left for educators to ask is, “How do I use game theory to make the learning environment better, but minimize adverse side-effects?”

My answer: Make learning in your classroom fun, rewarding, encourage educational risk taking, and remove the fear of (ultimate) failure – just like a video game. But, for heaven’s sake, don’t leave out the L E A R N I N G.

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Heritage Hall Reframed

I’m so intrigued by the book I chose, yes a hard copy.  In Truth, Beauty, and Goodness: Reframed, Howard Gardner hopes to show how we can maintain traditional virtues of truth, beauty, and goodness in the not-so-traditional environment of today.  He encourages us to continually confront and reflect on new examples of truth, beauty, and goodness and seek to align them with long-standing values.

I felt this was appropriate in a few ways.  Right now I am mostly thinking about how well this goes with our goal of obtaining to ways of teaching and learning without losing the values of traditional education, which has worked for many years.  It is all about adjusting our attitude and continue to do what teachers have always done…be life-long learners!

I’m so excited to try and fail new things…just as quickly as I get tired of my furniture, I get tired of the same ‘ol, same ‘ol in the classroom.  It’s all in the best interest of the kids and let’s not forget, for us as well!  I am a young teacher, so I started my career with a Smartboard, so I am not just necessarily talking about integrating technology, but the best practices of 21st Century fluencies.  I just hope that all the teachers who have been educating for so long will maintain a positive, open attitude about the potential with moving into the 21st century!  Great things are ahead!

Book Review: Out of Our Minds: Learning to be Creative (Ken Robinson)

I’ve ordered a hard copy – I already view screens for too many hours a day and refuse to do any serious reading on one! I picked the book because I was super impressed with Ken’s TED talk on education (view below). From the book reviews it sounds like his recently updated book was the basis for his TED talk on education (past, present, future), creativity & globalization. Sometimes I feel like phrases like “21st century learning” sound good but are a little short on substance. It was obvious from his TED talk though Ken has a meaningful message for educators. I’m excited to read what he has to say!

This is also the first time I’ve blogged before! I’m not sure exactly what I’m “supposed” to say. Hopefully my errant thoughts will do!