As you’ve probably noticed from my Twitter posts, I’m frustrated with Gee’s theoretical arguments. I admit I was skeptical when I saw a book about video games on the reading list, but by the time I cracked it open last week, I was ready to give Gee the benefit of the doubt. In fact, I read the first few chapters eagerly, ready to see learning in a whole new light.
Eventually, I realized that what he is saying sounds great theoretically (and I do “buy” it), but the practical application component is seriously lacking. The examples he gives for science classrooms are wonderful; if I were a physics teacher I would be taking notes and brainstorming lesson plans, but I’m not a physics teacher. I guess I was disappointed with Gee because after reading Linkon last week I had pages of notes, and (this is embarrassing to admit) I was literally dreaming of lesson ideas. For some reason, the ideas just aren’t flowing this week.
So. Because I’ve been struggling with the breakdown between theory and application, I decided to start this thread in hopes that others will chime in with ideas/suggestions/practical applications that they have envisioned for their classrooms. I don’t mean to suggest that there aren’t any—in fact, I’m sure there are plenty, but I haven’t figured them out yet. My disclaimer: I haven’t finished reading the book—and Abbie’s comments about the end of Chapter Six have given me hope—so it’s quite possible that I’ll retract my previous comments later, after gaining greater insight (I hope). In the meantime, I’ll get things started by including a few passages I’m keeping in mind as I grasp for practical applications:
“Achievement Principle: For learners of all levels of skill there are intrinsic rewards from the beginning, customized to each learner’s level, effort, and growing mastery and signaling the learner’s ongoing achievements” (64). Varying degrees of scaffolding, based on different learners’ needs. But don’t we try to do this already?
“’Regime of Competence’ Principle: The learner gets ample opportunity to operate within, but at the outer edge of, his or her resources, so that at those points things are felt as challenging but not ‘undoable’” (68). Achieve the perfect balance of difficulty and “doability.” Easier said than done!
“One good way to make people look stupid is to ask them to learn and think in terms of words and abstractions that they cannot connect in any useful way to images or situations in their embodied experiences in the world. Unfortunately, we regularly do this in schools” (72). Relates well to discussion of video game manuals and textbooks written in language that is literally comprehensible but to which one cannot attach genuine meaning without having experienced embodied learning in that domain (99-104). Idea: Provide context/background for texts before beginning; relate to students’ prior knowledge. But how do teachers encourage students to experience embodied learning (in this case, the reading of lit) before they are comfortable doing so? This seems like a catch-22 . . .
“It is my contention that active, critical learning in any domain should lead to learners becoming, in a sense, designers. Some, like the players who build their own extensions to games, will actually design new things. Others, like me, will design in thought and talk and let it inform their play” (96). Idea: Asking students to rewrite a story from a different perspective requires them to 1) be familiar with the original story, 2) form their own meaning, and 3) design a text (upon/against?) the original text. Encouraging students to become writers/critics helps them interact with texts on deeper and more personal levels.