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Does Gaming Have a Place in the Classroom?

The idea of introducing educational games in early education exists and has even been implemented, but do more traditional games deserve a place in schools? Topics such as English and Media exist to teach students about famous literary texts and powerful films, deconstructing these pieces to derive meaning and improve understanding of certain ideas and issues. Should time be dedicated to providing worthy games with the same analysis? Why, or why not?

  • It might also depends on the game relative to the age. – J.D. Jankowski 1 year ago
  • Great topic! For me, it's not so much about "worthy games" as it is about "worthy topics." If there's a particular set of topics worth exploring in a particular classroom, I'd say, we should explore those topics using whatever texts we believe are useful and engaging for that exploration. Most of my own work on video games has been for conference presentations and journals, but I've also presented in university classrooms on the representations of gender in specific video games. – JamesBKelley 1 year ago
  • I also think it's necessary to define a "game" here. Do you mean strictly in the sense of what is traditionally considered a video game, or do you also include more analog "games" like board games, word games, even computer software that can be "played" with? If the latter, then really all teaching at all levels relies on games, in the sense that there are rules that we follow and students who "win" by getting the correct answers. It really depends on how we define "play" and how we differentiate it from work. – Eden 1 year ago

Compulsory language lessons for new generations.

As an avid language-learner myself, I often question why my peers are so disinterested in the art of learning a foreign language. From beginning my secondary school it was complusory to learn either French or Spanish for the first two years. After that we were given an option to continue the course or drop it … many of who dropped.

Despite being British, I believe that the majority of native English speakers are quite lazy and closed to the idea of learning another language seeing as English is the most popular language to learn as a second language. Therefore I open this topic: should it be compulsory for young children (mainly in English-speaking countries) to be continuously taught a different language until their education is complete or should there still be choice in whether they continue or stop?

Both options offer positives and negatives, but which has more that can sustainably affect the development of the future generations’ prospects and opportunities?

  • Excellent topic. I also think it would be worthy to look at how other countries approach learning languages. For instance, almost everyone in Scandinavian countries have English as a second language. I also think it's fascinating that mostly English speaking countries avoid learning a second language or it's done poorly (perhaps a reminent of colonialism? Since English became a global language and English-speaking individuals aren't as limited to communicating around the world?). As a Canadian, I can say that although French is mandatory in elementary, they do a terrible job of teaching it. Most kids get sick of learning it, since after so many years you can barley hold a conversation. – Pamela Maria 3 years ago
  • I think it is also important to discuss here the issue in taking second languages seriously from a curriculum view - that too often there is one year of this, then one year of that, etc. so that no depth or opportunity to develop is really offered. I would also offer that as part of this is why not mainstream foreign films more fully. Or better yet on TV. I know some shows in America are making more of an effort to use Spanish as part of the show without subtitling it, pretty much to say "hey you should know this." I liked that in Firefly Whedon did this with Mandarin. – SaraiMW 3 years ago
  • This is interesting. In Canada those in English school must learn french starting in grade 4, while those in French school must learn English. I went to a full french school but was already fluent in English since I lived in southern Ontario. One thing I noticed is that although my anglophones friends had been learning french for most of their lives, their french skills sucked, they couldn't keep up in a conversation to save their lives. Yet if you flip it and go to Quebec, they all have at least conversational English skills or they are completely fluent. It always seems to me that although both language are official languages, English is more important and valued so despite the fact that anglophones students should be fluent in English they aren't. It seems to me that English systems don't put nearly as much effort into learning a second language since it isn't a necessity compared to a french speaker needing to learn English. It would be interesting to see how other countries who have two official languages go about teaching the language and see why there is such an imbalance, most likely because of the value placed in one language over the other. – tmtonji 3 years ago

Abandoning the Arts

The arts and music are the first programs cut from US public school curricula amidst current vitriolic cultural and policy debates. With STEM focus, charter secondary schools often do not include arts and music. (I’m concerned schools would cut literature, too, if savvy teachers were not able to link it to literacy.) Anecdotal and alarmist rhetoric argues that the result is an apathetic, tech-centered generation, devoid of creativity. With art and music leaving formal schooling, the response seems to be that art and music will be produced out of a well of intrinsic passion and sustained through the same. Museums of all sort in the US are struggling with dropping attendance. The arts and letters in higher education are widely derided as worthless and are also facing cuts and dropping enrollments. What is the role of K-12 education, then, if anything, in exposing young people to, nurturing, and developing aesthetic sensibilities and skills? If we as a culture and society abandon K-12 arts and music education, as we are, what effects can we attribute to that decision (e.g., declining museum patronage)?

  • Utilitarianism at its worst. Why can't we have both??? – Munjeera 4 years ago
  • This is a really awesome and relevant topic. As someone in music therapy, I see how dangerous cutting back on the arts can be. Art and music is in our human nature. Music is one of the most complex things our brain engages in. It develops the mind faster and encourages discipline. Out of all the disciplines I have studies, music has not only given me a new skill, but has helped me become disciplined and dedicated. I think when music is taught poorly in schools it is just as bad as cutting it. – birdienumnum17 4 years ago

Education in Animated Film: the History of Fairy Tales

Films like Pixar’s recent "Inside Out" explore mature themes about depression, emotional complexity, and the importance of negative experiences. "Frozen" explores female autonomy, an echo of the Disney Classic, "Mulan". "Big Hero 6" addresses loss. Many animated films produced by Pixar and Disney over the last few decades dig deep, bending the conventional and time-proven classic plots to have socially and developmentally positive impact on the minds of our youth.

This strategy is old news. Orally transmitted folk tales, including modernly referenced fairy tales, have historically utilized fanciful worlds, characters and adventures to convey a sense of morality a younger generation. The message is new: left-leaning, modern and relatable stories for 21st century children.

  • I think if you look at Studio Ghibli you'll find your answer. They've been tackling emotionally complex issues through animation for years, and they're not the only ones... It's just that Pixar is finally catching on. Compare Spirited Away to say Cinderella. In Spirited Away our character is a snotty, privileged little girl that faces a tough world that doesn't put up with it. In the end she doesn't come away with riches, just a richer perspective and humility. Disney Princess-cize that and the girl runs off with a perfect man, wealth, and cute talking animal friends. The converse for boys is that they come away a respected Hero with a beautiful woman. In Pixar/Disney films the fantasy is fed, in Ghibli, the fantasies are used to reflect something of the character. I think Pixar is getting there, but it's a complexity animation has dealt with for years. – A.E Hunt 6 years ago
  • Ooooh! Miyazaki films are a whole different world - in a great way. Maybe this topic would be better as a comparison in the advancement of educational animation, between eastern and western culture? Aside from the occasional Ghibli release, I know very little about the history or oral culture of Japan. – Derek Jackson 6 years ago
  • I think an interesting way of looking at it, is that kids accept what they consume. Immediately, perhaps unquestionably. When I watched old Disney Cartoons as a kid for instance, I never knew which way I was being pulled or even that I was. It's simply accepted, and it stays there and becomes unconsciously normative. So I think what we allow children to consume is important... Whether it's family friendly ghibli, disney, Pixar, or even an orally passed story, the rules and ideals of those things just kind of embed themselves. I can't say I know very much about the history or oral culture of Japan either. I imagine it's quite different. – A.E Hunt 6 years ago
  • A good look at the evolution of Disney, especially since the "Renaissance" period it went through in the 90s. Could go broad with all sorts of modern animation, or focus on Disney, either way a great topic! – smartstooge 6 years ago
  • I actually took a class last year specifically on the original fairy tales (Hans Christian Andersen, Grimms, Charles Perrault, etc). I have collections of the original fairy tales as well, and part of understanding the animated adaptations comes from comparing them to the original tales they're based on. I think it could be fascinating to really look at the details changed and how that changes the ultimate story. For example, in the original Little Mermaid (Andersen), mermaids don't have souls and the little mermaid's main goal is to earn a soul. One way she can do that, according to the not antagonistic sea witch, is to marry a man on land. When she saves the prince (yes, that happens), she has already made the decision to become human. She gives up her voice, gets legs which feel like knives stabbing into her with every step, and meets the prince. He treats her as a sort of pet, or lap dog, or something similar (she sleeps on a cushion outside of his room), and he ultimately marries some other princess (not the sea witch in disguise). Her sisters, learning her plight, all trade their long hair for a special knife from the witch. If the little mermaid kills the prince and his wife (oh, she joined them on the boat for the wedding, bizarrely) and lets their blood stain her feet, she will have a soul and be human. She considers this option but rejects it and jumps out of the boat. Rather than turn to sea foam as expected, though, she is chosen to be a spirit of the air, which travels the world doing good deeds to earn a soul. Not very much like Disney's version, is it? The things that are changed make a tremendous difference. Yes, Ariel likes humanity initially but her turning point isn't a soul - it's the prince. We see few negative side effects of her legs - she doesn't seem to have any pain - and she's treated fairly well by the prince. There's a happy ending in Disney, too, but not one as deep as Andersen's. Other stories - Cinderella, The Swan Princess, The Frog Prince, and others - all have major differences from their original stories. However, when one looks at these differences, they don't necessarily feel more modern or more relatable. They almost feel 'dumbed-down', and maybe that's to cater to a young audience, but those fairy tales catered to children, too. A long article or a series comparing some animated movies to their original stories would be an enlightening read for many animation fans (especially over at Disney). – KajsaRain 6 years ago