Free to be me

I watched yet another “tweet-chat” with some hashtag  about ‘game based learning‘ yesterday, in between playing ‘Child of Light’ with Mr.9. 

There seems a common behaviour in these periodic discussions namely self-affirmation, followed by the general ‘othering’ of teachers who don’t share the view, or hold sufficient cultural capital as ‘the in group’.

I see these online chats as an awkward way to hold any kind of dialogue — socially and technologically, but this one is technically in my backyard, I zoned in an out whilst it took place.

I am interested in games and media studies in schools and how they are represented. Teachers, like parents and kids, are one of the many groups who like to represent themselves online, yet stand alone in their insistence on being highly self-referential and symbolised in doing so.

Despite a the predicable mention of ‘levels’ and ‘badges’ together with how games are ‘fun’ and ‘motivating’, games were once again driven towards “in my classroom” and simplistic debate about gamification and mechanics. No once did anyone talk about games as a media form — and in fact the biggest form of media (sales, use) in popular culture. It was all about sucking out the ‘mechanics’ and gluing them onto existing ideology. No one pointed out how games encourage kids to be fee and to take on all sorts of new identities. No mention of communities which dwarf the size and sophistication of the so called “Personal Learning Network” – which is culturally applicable to teachers.

We have decided as a matter of social policy to measure people’s education, their learning, their competence, and their job-worthiness almost entirely in terms of the amount and the fanciness of schooling that they’ve been able to consume – John Holt (1971)

 What cognitive media theory is at work here? This is the same structuralist patriarchy that rules the classroom and now fancies itself as ruling ‘online’ too. Ultimately if teachers valued digital games they will have no problem in allowing kids to  play them . There are many reasons to let kids play games (within managed reason) and one of the biggest is that they will build far more deeper networks than half-duplex Twitter chats.