Halo Pwns Education System

, | Games

Reach rhymes with?

In the PBS documentary, Digital Media–New Learners Of The 21st Century, ASU professor Dr. James Paul Gee discusses how much more beneficial playing video games is for the development of the brains of our kids than is the current educational system that forces teachers to teach to the test.

Speaking of the theory of learning behind video games, Dr. Gee has this to say about the RTS:

Take Real Time Strategy games, which are the most complex video games. A game like Rise of Nations has over 350 commands. Essentially hundreds of variables interacting…you play it for hours, you run civilizations…I mean it’s more complex than what any kid would see in school. We have evolved an almost perfect way to teach these incredibly complex games.

He casts the way kids learn–and master–video games like RoN and Civilization against the way current assessment-driven education teaches kids. The latter comes up wanting. He goes on to ask why we don’t give kids a Halo test, but do insist on algebra tests.

Tina Barseghian writes about this in a recent column:

The current assessment system forces teachers to teach to the test. Video games hold out a different way of thinking about assessments: namely, that we don’t need it. Compare a student who’s taken 12 weeks of algebra classes to one who’s played the video game Halo on the most challenging setting. The algebra student must take a test to assess what he knows on the day of the test. The Halo player has mastered the skills needed to get to the final level–and that’s his ultimate goal. No need for a test in that context.

Both the video interview and the column above are worth a look. And not just because it’s cool to see Tom Noonan acting in a PBS video.