A few weeks before, she had been called to testify in a court case regarding one of the children in the district. The psychologist arrived at court at 9 a.m., but wasn’t called to testify until 4 p.m.
“Good thing I had my Nintendo,” she said.
“So what?” you might ask. “A pencil and paper is about $199 cheaper.”
“Work sheets were such a pain,” said Minori Yamanaka, a 13-year-old student at Otokoyama Higashi Junior High School. “These exercises feel like a game” (Kane, 2007).
But it’s not just Japan that’s utilizing the Nintendo DS for educational purposes, and it’s not just for language acquisition: According to an article by Lousie Holden in the Irish Times entitled "How Nintendo Can Boot Your Child's Perfomance in Maths," published Nov. 10, 2009, at least two schools in Ireland are using the Nintendo DS to teach math skills to their middle school students. The results, she said, are encouraging.
“Three classes spent approximately 15 minutes a day using two games, Maths Training and Brain Training,” wrote Holden. “All three classes in each grade were given mathematical tests (Drumcondra tests) before and after the trial period. The results of the Drumcondra tests were as follows: In 6th-class maths, relative to their peers, the Nintendo group scored substantially better. Gains were ‘obvious and significant’” (Holden, 2009).
So if the DS really aids in grasping the English language with students in Japan, why couldn’t it work with ESL students anywhere? And if Japanese and Irish schools are already implementing the Nintendo DS in their classes with educational success as Kane and Holden point out in their articles, why not in American special and general education classrooms as well, with software specifically designed to achieve maximum educational benefits?
It comes down to a lack of time for teacher training and wide scale implementation of the DS devices, the stigma that Nintendo products are for entertainment only and, of course, a lack of cash for the hardware and software.
“There is definitely support for the idea, but whether we can get money for it at this time is questionable,” pointed out Robbie O’Leary, principal of Sacred Heart Senior National School in Killinarden, Tallaght (Holden, 2009). O’Leary’s remarks no doubt echo the concerns of other educators in schools across the globe.
Back at my CSE meeting, an overwhelmed mother was relieved as a set of important services for her child were put into place. As I left the meeting, I too was a bit overwhelmed, my mind abuzz with educational possibilities and problems of Nintendo’s popular portable.