So I have just come across this really cool Math teacher during one of the TED Talks which I will post below. What impressed me the most was his emphasis on how we have seemingly lost focus of our problem-solving or problem-formulating capabilities.
I mean we have become so used to a school or an education system that presents us with ready made problems and then gives us the tools or the recipes for how to solve them. Dan Meyer (the guy in the video) makes direct reference to Math, of course because that is his subject. But I think he has really captured the essence of what’s wrong in our adoption of technology, maybe even of the use of games in the classroom. And on the other hand, he has also I think captured the essence of what makes games, outside the classroom, so much more fun. This is the distinction between educational games and games meant for entertainment.
Games made for entertainment, are meant to teach. If the gamer doesn’t learn then there is no fun. In an interview (see below) with Prof. John Seely Brown, he was realistically looking at a group of surfers and how their curiosity and their “questioning” disposition, got them to achieve levels of success which others haven’t achieved. They ask, they formulate problems and then attempt to reach a solution. They fail and they try. They are continuously assessing themselves or rather their solutions and then recalculating their potentials.
And Dan Meyer, reaches the same conclusions…in essence if we want our own futures to look good we need to foster this problem-‘formulating’ capabilities. And if we want to design games which make an impact, whatever the game subject is… we need to include this problem-‘formulating’ concept. Without this, there can be no long-lasting effect and what we will end up with in the end is another bunch of people who want to get to the “right” answer, whatever that might be in the shortest, easiest, less challenging way… and I ask: where’s the fun in that, right?