Cory at BoingBoing linked to a fun and fascination New York Times piece about the Quest to Learn school in New York City. The curriculum is experimental, both in how it deviates from traditional schooling and that it explores media literacy via hands on experimentation with video games. What me most in reading through Sara Corbett’s wonderful write up was that learning didn’t take place solely through play or creation but a good and liberal mixture of the two.
Quest to Learn is organized specifically around the idea that digital games are central to the lives of today’s children and also increasingly, as their speed and capability grow, powerful tools for intellectual exploration.
It has been a while since I’ve seen something new in the space of teaching media literacy. Teaching how to utilize not just video game play and design for problem solving but bending ubiquitous internet access to the task is the best way to deflect criticisms like those leveled, rightly or wrongly, in Nick Carr’s book, “The Shallows”. Like every other disruption to how we learn and think, the key isn’t to reject the present but to learn how it makes us different than prior generations.
Let’s also be honest. Commercial culture isn’t going to relent on the internet and digital media of all sorts because some academics are concerned about what we might lose in the exchange. Urging people, especially kids, to eschew the tools being used to persuade them to buy, buy, buy will only handicap them. The teachers in the article don’t seem as concerned about this, focusing more on how interactive learning and the play it encourages can height the effects of education. That is as it should be and resonates with constructionist thinking, a la Papert. Of course, if this engenders a fluency which nourishes an evolved, digital immune system, all the better.
Read Corbett’s article and decide for yourself.