I participated in Karl Fisch’s school project where a set of classes are reading and discussing Dan Pink’s A Whole New Mind. He was using MeBeam to send out the video, and asking participants internationally to join into the backchannel of conversation that would take place as we (the live audience of students and guests and blogger audience) via adding comments to a blog account set up specifically for the project. At the intro the students were shown visitors video feed (and wouldn’t you now I was answering a phone!) and simultaneously I could see the video of the inner circle of students the remainder of the time. For several consecutive weeks students and guests will gather each period of the day there are English classes, and talk about the chapters of the book. My first participation was on the chapter of “games.” I selected this chapter b/c I know in my heart that I learn most and best when I get to “play around” with the topic, be it information, hardware, software, or more. Interacting with it in the sense that it is a game or “play” allows me to take risks without worrying about failure or being rebuked by peers.
I joined this group too b/c gaming is probably at the top of my discomfort zone list, and I just don’t “get” playing video games. I wanted to hear the take of the students on this topic. I had this gut instinct that told me the kids would spend a good amount of time on “gaming” as it relates to video games, and I was not disappointed. What I did find, however, was that the backchannel where I was and the inner circle of participants on the video were surprisingly like-minded. There were those who were opposed to the violence of some games (like me) and felt like games dehumanized the actions–lot’s of talk about killing, blood, and guts. There were also those who supported the industry, saying it helps people, and the examples from the kids were simulations that assist soldiers to prepare for combat. I was astonished at the depth to which the kids defended their point of view, and found my self siding with both at times. Does that make me wishy-washy?
We did finally get back to the point of the game chapter, which did come out in both the inner circle of student discussion and the back channel. Humans learn when it is fun, engaging, and there is an element of pleasure. The kids even talked about classes where they enjoy their time in the room, naming fun, laughter, no fear of failure as reasons the classes are enjoyable.
My next session will be this coming Friday, and the chapter will be “meaning.” I signed up for this one too, as I feel strongly that learning has to be meaningful. The chapter on “play” and “meaning” remind me of the Wow framework I studied a few years ago, that of designing lessons that address qualities to engage students. Read about it here.
So I am really looking forward to Friday’s session, where I will live blog with Vicki Davis (Cool Cat Teacher Blog) and Scott Murphy, the Superintendent of Littlejohn Schools in Colorado–Superintendent of the district that Arapahoe belongs too. We will discuss the chapter on meaning. This chapter reminds me why I stay in the field of education. It is about focusing on your passions, making sure you enjoy and are passionate about what you do. It will be interesting to hear what the students say about this chapter.
Image: ‘360 controller‘