As I read Gee’s What Video Games Have to Teach Us About Learning and Literacy, I connected many of the ideas he had on applying learning strategies to gaming with those we have read previously with Salvatori and Donahue, Shulman, Scholes, and especially Linkon. Gee discusses active and critical learning, which relates to Linkon’s article on cultural critical reading. There is an emphasis on making students active learners instead of passive learners as Scholes would describe moving from reading to interpretation to criticism. This is also shown with Linkon’s example of the inquiry project, where students engaged in real inquiry and took on a new identity as researchers and critical thinkers.

However, Gee says “Certainly children will be at a disadvantage if they have one or more identities that do not fit with, are opposed to, or are threatened by the identity recruited in the [science] classroom…” Similar to how Tim’s Week 3 blog post on Linkon reflected how different cultural identities influenced his student’s readings on The Beautiful Things that Heaven Bears by Megestu, the student’s cultural identity affects how they learn. We already know that some students are more adept at learning and that there must be an interest in learning or else the student will have the blame “this text is too difficult,” or “it’s boring” as we learned from The Elements (and Pleasures) of Difficulty. There didn’t seem to be much resolution offered for those children who would be considered disadvantaged by Gee, but there was an expansion on identity as projective identity in his book. Projective identity “plays on two sense of ‘project,’ meaning both ‘to project one’s alues and desires onto the virtual character’ and ‘seeing the virtual character as one’s own project in the making…” (Gee p. 50) Gee later explains (in relation to science classrooms mostly although I really wish there were some English class examples) how the student needs to take on the identity of the scientist (or other expert) in order to become that type of thinker. So, for literature would this mean that a student should empathize and place his/herself in the identity of say the main character? Also, what about the disadvantaged students? How would a student even consciously know to project identity or how does the teacher get the student to project identity in the classroom? Gee goes on to discuss “repair work” for the students who cannot connect between real world identity and virtual identity: learner must be enticed to try even if he/she is afraid to try; learnermust be enticed to put in lots of effort even if there is little motivation to do so; and learner must achieve some meanigful success when he/she has expended this effort. (Gee p. 58) This all seems pretty obvious as generalities for teaching (as we’ve discussed positive reinforcement and making reading interesting in our class). In fact, these things seem more premptive or continuous than “repair work”.

On page 74 Gee says, “Of course, humans don’t just store experiences in their minds ‘as is.’ Rather, they edit them according to their interests, values, goals, and socio-cultural memberships.” This relates to the reading on experts vs. novices and how experts compartmentalize knowledge. In that same article about how experts learn and apply things, it mentions how experts recognize patterns, which Gee also discusses in the 4-step process (for children and experts) on probing, hypothesis, reprobing, and accepting the process on page 88. He also mentions how “situated meanings lead to real understanding and the ability to apply what one knows in action. Verbal meanings do not (though they do sometimes lead to the ability to pass paper and pencil tests). This is why so many school children, even ones who are good at school, can pass tests but still cannot apply their knowledge to real problem solving.” (p. 105) Linkon tried to resolve this by having students do the inquiry project. He also discusses how players learn the game by playing in a “subdomain” of the real game, or initially the first episode of a game which is a type of walkthrough of how to play. This is similar to how Linkon expresses the need for modeling and demonstration.

There is a lot in Gee’s book on how literacy applies to video games, including transference of things learned in one game applied to other similar games (like first-person shooter games), and as I try to be a good learner I shouldn’t complain (as I did above) about the lack of English classroom examples because the point is to transfer what I learned in Gee’s book on literacy and video games to English classrooms.

PS- When I worked in publishing on secondary school level math textbooks, our big competitor was trumping our market because they developed a new program enVision math, which had some pretty intense graphics on video games or technology that teaches math (my company called it “smoke and mirrors”).