Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Education United States Games

New York's Video-Game-Based Public School 214

Posted by timothy
from the next-year-is-facebook-high dept.
An anonymous reader writes "In Manhattan this fall, a batch of lucky sixth-graders will start at Quest To Learn, the first public school in the US with a curriculum built around playing games. They'll play Spore and Civilization, board games such as Settlers of Catan, and learn 3D modeling in Maya and Google Earth as well. Each semester concludes with a two-week 'Boss Level.'"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

New York's Video-Game-Based Public School

Comments Filter:
  • Misguided at best (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @06:24PM (#29447363)

    I like playing games more than most, but this is another poor attempt to make learning "fun". I see this problem at all levels of public education and it is fundamentally flawed. Instead of pandering to the attitude that learning isn't fun, more effort should be made to instill a different attitude towards learning. "Tricking" students into thinking they aren't being taught is never going to inspire the next great scientist or artist. Achievement requires hard work and we should not pretend otherwise and we should certainly not teach that notion to students.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @06:27PM (#29447399)
    This sounds like the type of "course" designed by lobby groups and their corporate masters not to actually educate children, or at least not as that term has been classically understood, but rather to indoctrinate the next generation of mindless consumers who don't ask questions and don't think too much. This is just one of many factors contributing to the continuing general decline of American public education. They might as well have them play America's Army or Modern Warfare, at least then we can begin their training early.
  • Skills For Life (Score:2, Insightful)

    by hattig (47930) on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @06:31PM (#29447469) Journal

    If you want to be unemployed playing games in a basement.

    What's wrong with maths, english and science these days?

  • what crap... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by girlintraining (1395911) on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @06:33PM (#29447491)

    This is the legacy of No Child Left Behind... We've dumbed education down to the lowest common denominator. There are fewer and fewer gifted programs. Everyone's straight-jacketed into the same curriculum at the same pace, and should someone demonstrate superior intelligence they're practically punished for it because it might harm some other precious snowflake's self-esteem to know! Net result -- kids don't try as hard, so standards slip and slip and slip, to adjust to the new low point. Video games -- Seriously. You know, it used to be a treat to get a movie in class and it was read, read, read. It was all about reading. Nowadays it's all about learning via glowing rectangles.

    Sad.

  • by am 2k (217885) on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @06:34PM (#29447499) Homepage

    Uh, you do realize that Spore is as creationist as you can get? It's intelligent design (well, mostly semi-intelligent), because you're doing the designing yourself.

  • Re:Awesome (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Itninja (937614) on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @06:35PM (#29447519) Homepage
    I agree it sounds awesome. But you realized that had you had this education in your youth, your above post would have probably been more like: "W00T! This is teh awesome! All those n00bs who talk smack about it are totally FAGS!!!!"

    I kid of course, but your concise use of grammar, punctuation, etc indicates that your traditional education was not a total waste as you seem to paint it.
  • Sex Ed (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Manfre (631065) on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @06:38PM (#29447565) Homepage Journal

    Will sex ed get taught with porn?

  • by Loomismeister (1589505) on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @06:40PM (#29447591)
    Creationism doesn't compare to evolution in the analogy your making. Evolution is a process that is proven to happen in many different situations, and Spore reveals many of the basic parts of it. I didn't say that this game would attempt to explain the origin of life by teaching kids that they are somehow Gods that are actually creating life. Spore actually presents the creationist viewpoint in a silly and satirical fassion. It's also a fun game that opens up these topics for discussion in classrooms.
  • Spore? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Shimmer (3036) <brianberns@gmail.com> on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @06:55PM (#29447763) Homepage Journal

    My kids play Spore. It looks like an entertaining game with no relation to reality whatsoever. If they use it to teach evolution (or anything about biology, really), I would pull my kid out the next day. It's pure fantasy - nothing wrong with that, but it doesn't belong in a science class.

  • Re:what crap... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by BJ_Covert_Action (1499847) on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @07:03PM (#29447841) Homepage Journal
    I'm sorry but I fail to see how the topic mentioned in the article (yes I read it, no I am not new here) has to do with schools succumbing to the 'make everybody equal mindset.' Granted, the program is an attempt to educate kids through the use of video games. But just because video games are very popular amongst kids doesn't mean there is some connection between this program and trying to make every single kid equal. I would assert, however, that implementing a program like this. which gives kids more freedom in how to learn (different choices in video games, different approaches to problem solving, etc.). would probably help those kids with superior intelligence and problem solving skills shine more.

    Forgive me if I am treading on your lawn but frankly, the school system as it stands now is a broken piece of shit (which you seem to agree with). Currently we stuff kids into a room, unload an unending string of partially garbled speech at them (through teachers that can hardly make sense of their own thoughts), and expect them to absorb it all like a sponge. Then we ask them to barf the crap they just heard back onto papers in an automaton fashion so that they can be rewarded with a pat on the head in the form of good grades. It's ridiculous, stifling, and completely fails to teach children how to learn (it succeeds very well in teaching them to accept what they are told though).

    The program described in the article, while it may end up failing or may end up succeeding (I don't know which), is at least an attempt to break free of that massively screwed system. It puts the children in a technologically immersed learning environment (that alone should pay off in an ever-increasingly technologically linked world) and gives them the opportunity to approach education in a way that makes sense to them (with guidance from their teachers). This not only gives them a chance to try new things in a safe environment (last I checked kids don't get hurt from video games), but it also gives them a chance to approach problems and knowledge by a means that works for them. That freedom and that freedom alone makes this program worth observing and not just dismissing out of hand.

    Furthermore, it appears that the games and programs kids will use to do their schoolwork vary from fun games to practical computer programs such as Adobe flash. As the article and summary both point out, these will give them a tech saviness that is lacking in kids these days. It gives them a chance to approach what are normally boring things for young kids (ancient Babylonian poetry) through a fun and creative medium (develop your own graphic novel) which could give them an intimate knowledge of something that most kids would just sleep through in normal school.

    Don't get me wrong, I am as embittered as anyone that my own education was a patterned succession of memorizing crap right up until college, but that doesn't mean that I am going to slam any alternative education model that comes along just because I feel like it. Frankly, this idea is one worth pursuing if for no other reason to see if it works or not. If it doesn't, hopefully a better program will come along that will. Until then however, I have to say that I think this program deserves a little more inspection than, "What Crap."
  • Re:what crap... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Chris Burke (6130) on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @07:04PM (#29447853) Homepage

    This is the legacy of No Child Left Behind... We've dumbed education down to the lowest common denominator. There are fewer and fewer gifted programs. Everyone's straight-jacketed into the same curriculum at the same pace

    No, it's much worse than that. We always had essentially the same curriculum for everyone if your school couldn't afford "gifted" courses, and most schools couldn't for more than maybe a couple subjects -- e.g one elementary school I went to had "advanced" math, but not science, history, english or anything else, so if your "gift" involved something other than math, tough luck!

    The problem with No Child Left Behind is that the curriculum now revolves entirely, 100%, around passing the stupid tests. Teachers don't teach anymore, they train and coach in how to pass tests. They don't teach things the test doesn't cover. They don't teach the principles, they teach the technique needed to pass the test. Because they can't afford to do anything else or they'll risk losing money and then whatever few interesting programs they have left will be gone.

    It'd be one thing if it was an actual education based on the lowest common denominator. But it's not even that good. Ever cram for an exam where you didn't care at all about the subject, you only cared about passing the exam, because if you didn't pass the exam your GPA would drop and you'd lose your financial aid? Was that the best learning experience? Now imagine your professor had exactly the same motivation. That's what No Child Left Behind has done to our education.

  • GO AMERICA! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @07:18PM (#29447989)

    Down the shitter, of course.

  • by Domini (103836) <lailoken@gmail.com> on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @07:19PM (#29447999) Journal

    ...they can play "Try to find work in a struggling world economy competing against foreign jobseekers with real educations"

    I'm not saying that all students will fall flat... the ones that are bright and feel that school is easy will not have a problem.
    It's possible they will even excel.

    It's the majority of lazy students that will suffer.

  • Re:Wonderful (Score:3, Insightful)

    by AP31R0N (723649) on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @07:26PM (#29448063)

    You don't even have to look to McJobs. Most professional jobs also have some drudgery (which is part of why we're paid to do them).

    However, it might be nice to see if this sort of learning could cause a cultural shift that might alleviate that drudgery. Hrm.

    When i was in a self paced program i was almost a full year ahead of my peers. When i went back to the regular school system i was a D student. i wonder what i could have done in a system that accommodated me.

  • by DragonWriter (970822) on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @07:51PM (#29448351)

    Creationism doesn't compare to evolution in the analogy your making. Evolution is a process that is proven to happen in many different situations, and Spore reveals many of the basic parts of it.

    Yes, generalized Darwinian evolution is a process that, in addition to its source in biology, has been shown to have some utility in explaining other processes, and which occurs pretty much by definition where certain sets of features are present (a source of random variations which affect fitness, a system which largely but not entirely preserves traits, etc.)

    OTOH, the basic required features are completely absent from Spore. As I understand, prerelease versions of the game had at least a kind of trait preservation (lacking the essentially unrestricted changes of the released version of the game), though they still lacked random variation.

  • Re:Awesome (Score:5, Insightful)

    by blahplusplus (757119) on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @08:01PM (#29448449)

    "I kid of course, but your concise use of grammar, punctuation, etc indicates that your traditional education was not a total waste as you seem to paint it."

    I disagree, traditional education basically sucks the life out of kids. When we are kids there are a lot of cool things we want to do but we don't know how to go about doing them. I would have loved to have learned to program by someone leading us through the construction of small simple games and telling us why the hard boring stuff (like math) is important, kids want to accomlish their dreams and once they realize it takes hard stuff they will 1) Discipline themselves to do it (because they want to accomplish that cool goal) or 2) They will find an area more to their liking.

    There are those who have the persistance to work hard and there are those kids who don't, we do a disservice to the kids with big goals and dreams and not nurtering them.

    What I wouldn't give for someone like John carmack to write a book about learning to write small 2D games, etc, with feedback from those who had to learn the hardway (i.e. have insight on how to teacn and structure a lesson in terms of capturing kids interest).

    Kids want to learn stuff we just suck the joy out of learning because we don't give them cool things to work on that teach teh lesson that -- cool things require lots of hard boring stuff to accomplish but the end result is awesome.

    Now if we can ramp up this boring stuff by taking cool complex stuff and giving them access to chunks of stuff they can handle (i.e. take animation of cool things that blowup like say a car in burnout, and allow them to tweak matehmatical values to see the results they get)

    They can start seeing a direct feedback relationship between what they are learning and doing cool stuff.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @08:24PM (#29448627)

    Uhm, gentlemen... Do you guys really think that this will somehow make homework fun?
    "Your assignment due next Friday is to beat Xenogears [60+ hours easily], and write a 5 page report on the aspects of yadda yadda yadda."
    If being forced to play the game doesn't kill the fun, the deadlines and summary reports certainly will.
    Games are fun because they are an escape from reality. Turning them into work will kill them.

  • Re:what crap... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by i.r.id10t (595143) on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @08:40PM (#29448783)

    To be fair, teaching to the test is an OK thing to do.... assuming the test is any good.

    For more fairness, the various tests pretty much suck, so your point is valid (and I don't have a windmill in my beard)

  • by selven (1556643) on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @09:05PM (#29449001)
    Making learning fun is when you teach people how awesome calculus actually is. This is making fun learning.
  • by Ethanol-fueled (1125189) on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @09:32PM (#29449187) Homepage Journal
    ...Yet another method to insulate schoolchildren from reality.

    Wouldn't you rather your kids actually live life than be stuck to a goddamn raster and then cry and kick their feet like babies when their first PHB eats them for breakfast?

    Gaming one's life away after school/work is bad enough...
  • Re:Awesome (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Capsaicin (412918) on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @09:47PM (#29449315)

    Building the monument - the Pyramid, The Cathedral of Notre Dame, The Golden Gate Bridge, The Great Wall of China - is fun. But do you really understand its significance?

    If you don't -go and find out!

    My 6 and 8 year old have recently started playing CivIV. While it would be overstating the case to say that their interest in learning has been entirely sparked by the exclusively by the game (the 6 year old was already obsessed with all things Ancient Egypt), these kind of wonders especially have resulted in greater attention being paid to the kind of History documentaries I like to expose them to. Last week they watched a show called "Great Wonders of the Islamic World" with the kind of attention that was previously reserved for StarWars, TMNT, and David Attenborough Nature docos. The 6 year old is extending his obsession to Aztecs (they have pyramids too!) as a result of this game.

    This has demonstrated very clearly to me that at least some games (well at least Civilization), have a valuable role to play in fostering involvement with younger children. This is not to say that education should consist solely of electronic game-playing.

  • Facepalm (Score:5, Insightful)

    by 4D6963 (933028) on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @09:52PM (#29449345)

    I don't know which is worse, that anyone can be dumb enough to actually make that happen, or that it would garner our praise. In our defence, Slashdot is full of people who think that education should be all about learning to think. That's utter bullshit, learning to think is only one aspect of education, and as a matter of fact it's more a by-product of "learning things". School is for learning basic knowledge and basic skills, like reading, counting, writing, or knowing about ancient Greece or being able to put Belgium or the Potomac River on a map. So, learning multiplication by reciting look-up tables isn't fun? Well tough luck, cause you need that in life, and that's not by making homoerotic monsters in Spore that you'll learn that. Just stop with the experimental education, good education doesn't need innovation, lots of kids 100 years ago received a better education than most of your offsprings ever will.

    Disclaimer, I went to private school in France, I know what receiving a decent education is like. How do you think my English became this good, by learning critical thinking? More like by being forced to learn lists of irregular verbs.

  • Re:Experience (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Hurricane78 (562437) <deleted@slashBLUEdot.org minus berry> on Wednesday September 16, 2009 @11:05PM (#29449809)

    Obviously, you can't teach Mathematics through a video game. You can, however, clarify some of the more obscure portions of Mathematics through demonstration, and video games are an excellent way to demonstrate.

    Not that monstrosity that they call mathematics (and which really has not much to do with it), that's right.
    But real mathematics.. I think Paul Lockhart would strongly disagree [maa.org]. :)

  • Re:Awesome (Score:4, Insightful)

    by thrawn_aj (1073100) on Thursday September 17, 2009 @12:35AM (#29450437)

    ... leading us through the construction of small simple games and telling us why the hard boring stuff (like math) is important.

    Kids want to learn stuff we just suck the joy out of learning because we don't give them cool things to work on that teach teh lesson that -- cool things require lots of hard boring stuff to accomplish but the end result is awesome.

    It's a good thing I didn't grow up with your definitions of "boring" and "cool". Your statement that math is important is laudable but it is deeply contaminated by the addenda that it is also hard and boring. From my point of view, computing is merely a quaint little example of how a teeny tiny fraction of most aesthetically superb* piece of ... magic is the only word for it ... created by the human race can be applied for purposes of relieving the human mind of repetitive calculations (and perhaps entertainment).

    Teaching with the attitude I inferred from your post (and please correct me if my inference was in error) would simply create a bunch of superficial coders. I've seen firsthand the results of "real-world numerical" teaching styles taken to the extreme in (for instance) early physics education. It prevents students from seeing some of the grandest mysteries ever encountered and how our scientific ancestors frakking solved them instead of just staring stupidly at them. Imparting (among other things of course) the magnificence of the intersection of mathematics and reality (especially in everyday situations) should be one of the critical goals of science education.

    Now, of course I wouldn't advocate that teaching philosophy in a college level programming course - you're there to learn to code, not contemplate mathematical mysteries :P. But we're discussing pre-college stuff. Rarely does one see any but the most superficial math in programming courses and that's fine. What I object to is actually institutionalizing that weird attitude. It's like the difference between a stripper and a ballet dancer - in one case, the details of the music aren't all that important ;).

    Just because the current way of teaching is not the best way doesn't mean that "cool" should be the new standard for good education :P. Cool is fine for kiddies, mature children should be introduced to the concept of "profound" as soon as possible. The horrible way we do it now grants the senile old farts a monopoly over it and that's just stupid.

    _______________________
    *imho ofc :P

  • Re:Facepalm (Score:3, Insightful)

    by u38cg (607297) <calum@callingthetune.co.uk> on Thursday September 17, 2009 @01:58AM (#29450855) Homepage
    Some kids got a fantastic education 100 years ago. We only know about the ones who made it. Most were thrown on the scrapheap once they could read or write. Today, we have a vastly better educated populace than we have ever had, and there is plenty more potential there. As for your experience, you went to school with a bunch of cosmopolitan, well off, middle-class kids. You should be holding yourself to a different standard than the average output of the French school system.
  • Re:Spore? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by u38cg (607297) <calum@callingthetune.co.uk> on Thursday September 17, 2009 @02:00AM (#29450863) Homepage
    Do, please, enlighten us with the details o games you have designed that have sold in excess of a million copies...
  • Re:Awesome (Score:4, Insightful)

    by blahplusplus (757119) on Thursday September 17, 2009 @04:38AM (#29451445)

    "It's a good thing I didn't grow up with your definitions of "boring" and "cool". Your statement that math is important is laudable but it is deeply contaminated by the addenda that it is also hard and boring."

    You have to understand that for most many kids it is a boring subject because they can't see the relevance of it in their daily lives, even though they know it's important for certain jobs, many kids simply wont' learn to love learning about math if it is not handled well by who-ever's teaching it. I'm absolutely sure math education is handled badly in many places (from my own experience).

    Now it's not that math is necessarily boring but it IS how it is taught that gives kids the perception that math is hard and boring.

    Trust me on this one I'd argue with you that current mathematicians and mathematics teachers have not approached the teaching math correclty in many regards, I know this because I had to go about learning certain how to observe the world first using more basic principles before one even gets to symbolic computation.

    I know because I came across debates and alternative framings of mathematics in my travels such as:

    http://www.symmetryperfect.com/ [symmetryperfect.com]

    Youd' never learn in school that you were taught math was only one group of men's way of viewing mathematics.

    Also check out Mayan numerals here:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mayan_numerals [wikipedia.org]

    There are many ways to frame mathematical concepts in better ways that give one a better conceptual foundation on how to observe and conceive mathematically before one even does any kind of computation.

    Take myself for instance: Most of my thought is entirely visual, i.e. geometric, graphic.

    My weakness is juggling symbols, therefore I have a preference for visualizing numbers as objects interacting physically to understand something.

    Things like graphs, charts, shapes, models, figures are better fit then teaching raw equations out of a textbook for me, this is why I had such a frustrating time with mathematics.

    I'm currently doing original research and hope to compile it into a book so others can see that math is much deeper then anyone has yet thought of.

    I respect those in the profession and do not deny their great achievements and contributions but they do not have a monopoly on the truth about mathematics or how something can be seen radically differently from how matehmatics has been tradtionally structured.

  • by Lurker2288 (995635) on Thursday September 17, 2009 @02:23PM (#29456679)
    This is such a moldy old canard that it amazes me that godheads still bother with it. No, logically speaking, science cannot PROVE with 100% certainty that evolution happens. However, we can say that there are mountains of evidence, gathered from completely disaparate fields of study, which very strongly support the modern synthesis of evolutionary theory. We are as sure of evolution as it is possible to be.

    I'm not going to try to tell you what to believe, but at least have the intellectual honesty to acknowledge that this is an area in which science is relatively certain.

The shortest distance between two points is under construction. -- Noelie Alito

Working...