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July 21, 2003
"Better theories of learning"

Yet another educational expert is praising computer games:

Violent video games are more educational than school, stimulating children to be more critical, constructive and reflective than conventional classroom teaching, says one of the world's leading educational experts.

Children trying to escape a maze, find a hidden treasure or blast away an enemy with a high-powered rifle in a fantasy world make greater cognitive leaps than they do in the classroom, Professor James Paul Gee believes.

'Better theories of learning are embedded in video games than many children in primary and secondary schools ever experience in the classroom,' said Gee, author of What Video Games Have To Teach Us About Learning And Literacy, to be published next week.

'Violence is just a way of grabbing the child's attention. What's important is that the more violent the game, the more strategic modes of thinking the child has to develop to win - modes of thinking that fit better with today's hi-tech, global world than the learning they are taught in school.'

Never having played computer games, or had any sustained dealings with children who do so a lot, I don't know about this.

But the argument certainly throws a different light on the debate about whether educatinal standards are climbing, or falling. Can there be any doubt that today's children tend to be better at computer games than were their grandparents at the same age?

I still remember remember fondly this poster at TCS blog who saw a day coming when children won't be allowed to do sums or read books and write reports on them until they've done their daily stint of computer gaming. I wouldn't put it past them.

Posted by Brian Micklethwait at 07:50 PM
Category: Technology

I wonder if the professor really knows anything about "today's hi-tech, global world." Certainly, the skills and orientation required to write a computer program have little to do with those required to play a computer game. The skills required to manage or market that product have equally little to do with such game-playing skills. I have nothing against computer games, but I wish "experts" would stop using "technology" as a mystical fetish.

Comment by: David Foster on July 21, 2003 08:21 PM
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