Let your Students Play!
These words are not only a fantastic line from an epic movie, but paints the world of education today. Gone are the days of “chalk and talks” (in fact mention the word chalk to a class today, and they’ll think of the stuff you use on sidewalks, not something you would use in a classroom!) gone are the days of heads in books, or running to Encyclopedias.
Today students literally have the world at their fingertips thanks to their smart phones. Seeing that our children are wired in this manner, where they don’t have to go through Encyclopedias that may or may not have the most current info, it makes sense that classwork needs to look differently. This is where gaming can come in.
Yes, you heard that correctly, gaming. Before you scoff at this idea, think of that slogan “learn through playing.” This is the (proven) theory that young children learn through playing. Through an arts and crafts project a four year old may learn about different textures, through dramatic play a small child may learn that things cost money, and through sorting blocks, a young child learns basic mathematical skills. Why then when a student enters first grade, and throughout their academic careers, do we forget so quickly that play works?
Although some schools do offer their students play time for programs like ABC Mouse, the higher the academic ladder they climb, the more the idea of gaming gets left behind. Whereas role playing and arts and crafts works for young kids, who tend to be less inhibited, older students have that pesky feeling of “everyone is looking at me.” Sometimes when amongst their peers a student, particularly a teen, will be too shy to try something like that in front of a group.
There is something to be said about the intimacy of a screen that delivers not only a safe place for a student, but a place of personalized learning. When you are using a game to learn, the classmates around you don’t know where in the game you are, or how difficult or easy you are finding the material. A student can relax and enjoy the learning process through a game. This makes learning fun, which then creates lifelong learners; a goal of everyone in education.
And that’s really the beauty of it. The students are playing a game, but they are actually learning something. It’s the classroom’s version of pureeing vegetables in a meal so a picky eater doesn’t realize they are eating broccoli.
So teachers, administrators, drag those laptop carts back into the classrooms, and let your kids play! They will learn something in the process, and enjoy learn things they never imagined.
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