The gaming industry is tapping into what teachers and parents and all the home educators have always known; that if children are happy and engaged in their learning they will achieve a lot more.
This week’s Click on BBC news this Sunday reported on a selection of games at the Serious Games Expo that are supposed to enhance learning. These were mostly for business purposes but I’ve always thought that computer games for educational purposes would be an absolutely fantastic way to learn. There are already some, but our experience of them was that they were little better than keeping kids busy; poorly thought out, far too slow and downright boring in some cases.
But when I watched my youngest on SIMS I used to think how fantastic it would be if there were games as intricate as that which taught kids about their world, languages, history or science topics.
‘Horrible Histories’ both the books and the programmes are a brilliant example of children learning through enjoying themselves. My kids were always citing historical events as a result of watching these, their knowledge soon exceeding mine. And there are many educational games on the BBC Learning site which we used when we were home educating. But if we could get beyond the constipated idea that education has to be grindingly dull and laborious in order to be effective we’d be able to use these untapped facilities a lot more.
Education doesn’t have to dull and laborious; that’s why it’s switching so many of them off. If it’s enjoyable, achievements soar. The kids love their gaming, absorb themselves in it and concentrate for hours even those who are supposed to have ‘attention deficit’ problems. Why should we not use well constructed games to help them learn?
Course having said all that we’re still stuck with the problem of having to limit their ‘screen time’, which I mentioned on my last post. And not give in to the excuse that mine very quickly learned to adopt; ‘but it’s educational’. We’ll always need to make vigilant judgements about whether it really is!