13.0563 games, learning and teaching

From: Humanist Discussion Group (willard@lists.village.virginia.edu)
Date: Thu Apr 27 2000 - 20:34:53 CUT

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                   Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 13, No. 563.
           Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London

       [1] From: "Tarvers, Josephine K." (23)
             Subject: RE: 13.0557 games, learning and teaching

       [2] From: "Osher Doctorow" <osher@ix.netcom.com> (63)
             Subject: 13.0554 Come out to play?

             Date: Thu, 27 Apr 2000 21:28:10 +0100
             From: "Tarvers, Josephine K." <tarversj@exchange.winthrop.edu>
             Subject: RE: 13.0557 games, learning and teaching

    Dear Colleagues,

    Being new to this group, I don't know if I'm repeating well-known
    information or not, but Janet Murray does talk about how we become familiar
    with, socialized to, and immersed in role-playing games in her book _Hamlet
    on the Holodeck: The Future of Narrative in Cyberspace_ (Free Press, 1997).
    Apropos of what Mary Dee Harris mentioned, Murray talks particularly about
    how female roles can be created, how the scripts for these roles can unleash
    or constrain desire--and therefore why they are powerful. The chapters on
    "Immersion" and "Agency" seem particularly suited to the current thread of


    Jo Koster Tarvers, Ph.D.
    Department of English
    Winthrop University
    Rock Hill, SC 29733-0001
    (803) 323-4557; fax (803) 323-4837
    tarversj@winthrop.edu <mailto:tarversj@winthrop.edu>
    "The only things certain in life are death and taxes; too bad they don't
    come in that order."--Broom Hilda

             Date: Thu, 27 Apr 2000 21:29:05 +0100
             From: "Osher Doctorow" <osher@ix.netcom.com>
             Subject: 13.0554 Come out to play?

    Dear Colleagues:

    Willard has pointed out under this topic that games would raise the
    question about how we know what we think we know, and that there are two
    questions: 1. Can we reach the Sega-generation effectively through
    games? If so, what is to be considered? 2. Who is doing this already and
    doing it well?

    I have located the online conference which Doctorow Consultants contributed
    to: TCC 2000, Teaching in the Community Colleges Online Conference, April
    12-14, at <http://leahi.kcc.hawaii.edu>http://leahi.kcc.hawaii.edu. I
    mentioned this earlier under the same topic. Our presentation, "Internet
    Flashcards: Communication and Access," by Osher Doctorow, Marleen Doctorow
    [mispelled by the internet (odd !) as Marlene], and Sam Hopper, details
    some of the work on a type of game situation that Doctorow Consultants have
    been working on. Colleagues are urged to access that presentation, and if
    they have trouble downloading it without passwords or whatever, I'll try
    see what I can do.

    I can only touch the boundaries of the subject here, especially with regard
    to answering the questions above. However, I have thought of an analogy
    which I like very much. Suppose that you are trying to teach student S to
    play the violin (or piano, for those so inclined). If you teach S to play
    the violin by practicing concerto grosso's or sympthonies or operas, you
    will usually fail. The reason is not that practice and complex problems
    and active games are bad, but that you forgot to teach S how to move S's
    fingers and hands on the violin or piano before going on to the harder
    things. This seems so elementary as to be almost trivial.

    Yet we in universities and lower schools have been assigning students
    garage-fulls of homework, challenging problems, and even full blown
    projects to work on as a group or individually, in almost every
    subject. We compromise and make some of these problems relatively easy,
    but if we eliminate the students who cheat, who ask friends for answers,
    who ask parents and tutors for answers, who find answers on the internet
    and in libraries without having the faintest idea what the answers mean,
    there is almost nobody left (well, maybe the children of a few instructors
    and one or two Einsteins). We attempt to create SYMPHONY or CONCERTO
    GROSSO GAMES. We should be attempting to create FINGER/HAND EXERCISE
    AFTER students have mastered the latter games should we ask them to move on
    to symphony games, even if it takes us an extra term or two in every subject.

    Internet flash cards make learning definitions, theorems, theory,
    principles, axioms relatively painless, and they can be used in a somewhat
    gamelike context, but when the bottom line is reached, there is no
    substitute for the student actually reading and learning the flash cards on
    the internet, which is hard work that does not involve fun at most
    points. Fun can come later, in symphonies. There is a point, hopefully
    early enough in a child's development, where the parent must decide whether
    to almost literally sit on the child or not to get the child to do the work
    of learning the flash cards corresponding to finger/hand exercises. They
    might find that they have already got a child on their hands who will not
    tolerate the frustration of doing this. The parent must then decide
    whether to get therapeutic help or not, and by this I literally mean
    psychology, educational therapy, or even hypnosis. I would ask parents a
    question (and instructors are parents too, quite often): would you rather
    have your child grow up uneducated (poorly educated) or as a last resort
    hypnotized? Marleen would phrase this more mildly, but I think that if you
    cannot commit yourself to hypnotize your child in order to focus their
    concentration and eliminate distractions from their friends and develop
    good study habits and read flash cards, then you are in big trouble. If
    parents cannot answer this question, then games will not help to reach
    children. If parents answer "yes," then after the students learn their
    flash cards, their hand/finger exercises, they can go on to games more
    reminiscent of concerto grossos and symphonies. This is what Doctorow
    Consultants has been working on.



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