Do Video Games Help Kids Learn?

I’m taking a trip along with a couple of other adventuresome educators this week. We’re going to Chicago to participate in Chicago, Illinois at the Newberry Library to attend a panel discussion, “Do Video Games Help Kids Learn?” The event is hosted by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. A group of educators and educational technologists have been discussing learning and today’s children. Our discussion has led us to attend this event.

I think the majority of children in today’s classrooms are bored stiff. Most of what passes as education is presented in nearly the same fashion as education was presented fifty years ago. I know teachers who love Powerpoint and use it the same way Sr. Catherine used to use the blackboard at St. Pius X where I attended elementary school. I know of one very gifted young man who signed into conference as “bored in the high school.” I was a daydreamer in school. Reading and spelling were my two favorite subjects. I think they are related. I think they are important too, along with basic mathematics and general science. I personally loved American History. I was fascinated with it and could recite dates and places and who fought in what battles. I was terrible in math in high school. I didn’t do well in general science or biology either.

It wasn’t until I excelled in some of those areas while in the United States Navy that I realized I could have a future in a science related field. The Navy didn’t have time to bore us. They were interested in producing hospital corpsman who could save lives on ships, in naval hospitals and in southeast Asia with the U.S. Marines. The United States Military has some of the finest schooling available. Large numbers of men and women have learned a wide range of skills that they can take with them when they leave the active service. I’ve digressed a bit here.

I learned by watching my own son and daughter grow and learn. I watched them learn from programs like Sesame Street. I watched the impact of video games in their lives. My daughter is a more traditional learner. She excelled in high school and she’s done very well in college. My son is not a traditional student, but he’s no less brilliant. He loves video games and continues to play them even after graduating from college. I love to play Microsoft Flight Simulator. Flight Simulator actually was part of my path to a private pilot’s license. The U.S. Military uses simulation to train soldiers and airmen. Airlines use simulators to train pilots. If these people have experienced success why not use some of the same technology to help younger children learn?

I’ll know more after Thursday night.

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video games, learning, MacArthur Foundation