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Life Skills Support Teacher

Quote: Actually I think a lot

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Actually I think a lot about my students and how they will live as adults. It's very obvious that you have never participated in the gaming community nor have you truly played an online game or you would know which knowledge skills apply to these games. However, arguing with a closed mind

There's a body of research that supports my "closed mindedness" and concludes via evidence that overexposure to videogames at a young age has a negative effect on brain development. You can google the topic. While you are at it, google the topic of overexposure to electromagnetic fields and their effect on the brain. Why I mention this is that chronic gaming goes hand in hand with chronic gadget use. I have yet to know of a gamer who wasn't wedded to their iFad device.

I actually think about my students and how they will live as adults as well. My concern centers on whether or not they'll suffer a form of cognitive inertia that will keep them 18 in the mind when chronologically they are in their 30s and 40s.

All kidding aside, just the issue of EM fields is enough to give one pause. Yet, an overwhelming number of teachers, the alleged stewards of our precious youth class, have no problem letting kids use their iFads in the classroom.

The idea that kids will generalize alleged "skills" gleaned from videogames to REALITY is a preposterous belief. Reality is not like a videogame. Videogames are like little cocoons that insulate from many stark, and at times, painful realities that are just as important to experience on the way into adulthood.

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I work in a Special Education classroom with severe and profound students. I also work work with a student with Asbergers (sic) Syndrome

Tammy, it doesn't look good for a special ed teacher to publicly misspell the name of the physician chiefly associated with one of the more prevalent disabilities known to the profession.

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I have seen a rise in my students ability to communicate and socialize appropriately

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In my experience, I have observed far more social awkwardness in the classroom environment because having to peer into an impersonal screen to communicate is far easier than actually having real vis-a-vis connections with people (and not random, impersonal characters on a screen).

Besides, this entire post-mod obsession with "socialization" is so overblown and over-hyped because it's never really about people, but marketing overpriced goods and services via a dumbed down lowest common denominator pop culture.

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They teach our students a variety of Life Skills in a safe environment as long as it is monitored by adult supervision.

This is part of the problem. Many of them are "adults" in name only.

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You call science fiction and fantasy "fluff" yet you haven't read it. It is hard to understand how you came by that idea when you have not truly experienced the genre. I suggest you go read

Before making suggestions for me, try reading up on what I've written on this topic previously..

"Light fantasy fluff is less taxing to teach, like a project based learning assignment. If lit teachers want to teach REAL fantasy with substance, they should look no further than the works of Ray Bradbury, Harlan Ellison, or the greatest of them all, Isaac Asimov."

Actually I think a lot about

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Actually I think a lot about my students and how they will live as adults. It's very obvious that you have never participated in the gaming community nor have you truly played an online game or you would know which knowledge skills apply to these games. However, arguing with a closed mind will not get me nor anyone else anywhere.

Let me tell you what is good about these games from personal experience. I work in a Special Education classroom with severe and profound students. I also work work with a student with Asbergers Syndrome who became attached to me over the summer at a school summer introduction program. Every morning, he comes in to my room and I assess how he is doing so I can let his case manager know if she needs to pull him from class or if he is going to have a successful day. He has trouble making friends and has severe social deficits. Over this past school year, I started a Lunch Bunch with my students, him and group of general education students during our lunch break. In our group, this student made a friend with another young man who also happened to like the same video game MineCraft. Over time, they asked to come in my room before school to use my student computers to play this game together. I have noticed this young man reminding my student of correct social behaviors and he doesn't argue. When the young man is absent, my student has a bad day in his classes. I listen to them have conversations on how to build a community, what rules are going to apply to their world, how they are going to play the game, where they are going to explore and all the other skills we try to teach our students when teaching them basic social skills. These two students then turn around and teach my low functioning students those same skills by interesting them in the games on my iPad and on the computer when they come in for Lunch Bunch. I have seen a rise in my students ability to communicate and socialize appropriately.

You may say, ok, this is social skills, that is just a limited use for games. I have also seen an increase in my students' reading skills as most of these games require a basic modicum of reading ability. However, because they are interested in playing these games, they have a desire to learn the basic reading and math skills to succeed. They need to be able to count, identify numbers, add, subtract, divide and multiply for most of the games they play and they do it in a natural setting that give meaning to the basic skills they learn in class.

Going back to WoW. WoW takes all this and advances it beyond what my students are capable of doing. The Auction House provides real world experience in a safe setting to practice real economics. Players have to understand the concept of supply and demand in order to make enough money to get what they need to succeed in the game and get the high power equipment necessary to win. Crafting skills in the game teach students the concepts of real world cottage industry. You make items from basic materials you gather in the game. You have to compete with other people to get what you need as there is a limited supply in any one area at any given time. You then have to spend time to advance your skills in order to be successful in your profession. You have to market your skills in order to make money or create items through trade. Then you have the adventure part of the game. You follow a set of clues that never give you enough information so you have to use deductive reasoning skills in order to succeed. Also you can join Guilds where you have to practice social skills and democracy in order to advance in guild politics. All together, it's not just the reading skills you see in these large scale MMO's. They teach our students a variety of Life Skills in a safe environment as long as it is monitored by adult supervision.

I invite you to actually go in and play sometime and give it a chance. If you don't like fantasy, there are other real to life MMOs that do the same thing. However, please do not denigrate a genre you have not experienced simply because you do not like it. You call science fiction and fantasy "fluff" yet you haven't read it. It is hard to understand how you came by that idea when you have not truly experienced the genre. I suggest you go read Heinlein who was sent to jail during WWII for espionage because he accidently placed the plans for the atom bomb in one of his books. You can not compare "Catcher in the Rhye" with the "Hobbit" they are two different genres and two different types of writing. Both are classics in their own rights.

You can call me a (wo)manchild if you like. You can say I never grew up. However, your kind of growing up I never want to do. I want to be able to understand my students. I want to know how they think and what they are interested in. I want to be able to hold a conversation with them on subjects that matter to them. By catching their interest, they then listen to me when I speak about what matters to me. I can talk about Shakespeare and Dickens. I can explain geometry and division. We can talk about world geography and people in history. I can capture their attention as I teach because they know I understand their interests and I understand them. If I like what they like, then maybe they can see something in what I like too.

Life Skills Support Teacher

Another great book known to

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Another great book known to mankind stated on its pages:

"When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things."

As for "Catcher in the Rye," the character of Holden Caulfield is perhaps one of the most genuine in all of fiction, along with Kilgore Trout, Captain John Yossarian, or even Randle Patrick McMurphy, who existed within their respective narratives as among the few uncorrupted souls left in the world who placed personal principle before everything else, no matter how much pain they suffered as a result. Or quite possibly, even death.

Sadly, many modern lit teachers fail to understand the complex anti-hero archetype because it's too intellectually taxing for them and the FAST, EASY, and FUN generation. Light fantasy fluff is less taxing to teach, like a project based learning assignment. If lit teachers want to teach REAL fantasy with substance, they should look no further than the works of Ray Bradbury, Harlan Ellison, or the greatest of them all, Isaac Asimov.

As I've said before, the real bigotry exists in the realm of lowered expectations within dumbed-down curricula. That's what the kind of videogaming pushed on this blog represents. The voices of dissent are overwhelmed by the corporate American juggernaut.

Ever think how LucasArts benefits from pushing video games in the classroom?

ESL Teacher and eLearning Materials Developer

"I am 52 years old, not 12, so I consider this type..."

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You might have said, "I'm a narrow minded bigot who considers the ways I learned as a youth the only way it should be done."

There is sufficient data on gamification of learning at this point. I'll leave it to your research skills to go find some.

Out of curiosity, are you one of those people who thinks youth today benefit from reading "Catcher in the Rye"?

Life Skills Support Teacher

I can't fault Finley for

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I can't fault Finley for trying, but game based learning to me smacks of an extreme application of the Premack Principle plus the soft bigotry of lowered expectations.

I am aware of the attitude among many Edutopians that motivating students through what they deem as "bribes," whether it be snacks, extra privileges, etc., robs them of their chance to develop intrinsic motivation.

I consider the use of video games of the type described in Finley's blog entry as a form of bribery to get students interested in literature. Too much emphasis is placed on student preferences, which from where I sit, leave a lot to be desired. Presumably, that's part of the reason why they are in school, so they can "up their game" (pardon the pun) and abandon the trappings of juvenilia, that is ... heralding art forms that are reflective of unsophisticated and unschooled tastes. Try to convince a middle school female that One Direction's music is palatable fluff and little more compared to earlier forms of pop music written by Cole Porter or the Beatles. Eventually, you have to compartmentalize those youthful preoccupations and embrace more intellectually advanced and mature forms. Imagine making that giant developmental leap from Please Please Me to Strawberry Fields Forever. That's essential to proper cognitive development.

I've observed WoW in use and was once invited to participate. I am 52 years old, not 12, so I consider this type of entertainment as beneath me. I see video games purely as entertainment for kids with limits attached, of course. You wouldn't let your kid eat ice cream for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, would you?

The fact that too many adults are rabid gamers is yet another aspect of our culture that makes me shudder. I have yet to understand this fascination with clinging to one's youth. Despite its troubles, adulthood is at least liberating as you acquire far more control over your destiny. Your array of choices are almost infinite. You can't say that when you are a kid.

The fact that these adult gamers are also teachers bringing this stuff into the classroom stretches my ability to be tolerant. I have no problem with message boards or websites like Funbrain that feature educational games. But WoW was not created for use in a classroom. It's popular among kids and therefore, in my estimation, seems like a means to bribe kids into participating in a classroom activity.

I wonder how many of the gaming advocates actually think about the lives of these students after they graduate and move into a real adult existence. These proto-adults been conditioned to expect reality to operate like a video game. I know that people have confused TV "reality" with real life (I saw The Cable Guy, too). I laugh at people who contend with all sincerity that "reality TV" is unscripted warts-and-all reality. The failure to sharply discern between fantasy and reality is a huge problem that I note in my interactions with kids. They've formed these massive mental gray areas that have no boundaries or limits. The reason for this is that segments of society have moved away from absolutism because it can be judgmental or prejudicial. To then expect boundaries and limits to be imposed on the typical 18-25 brain could provoke a complete meltdown because they believe that it is THEIR world and the rest of us serve as supporting players.

Introducing a videogame like WoW is not an example of setting high expectations in the classroom. It seems to me as little more than an expression of desperation on the part of a kind of teacher whose "bag of tricks" has become unfortunately depleted.

However, I am willing to be persuaded to believe otherwise if a state standard could be cited that supports the introduction of consumer-grade video games as instructional enhancement.

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