Sunday, April 24, 2011

Reading, Writing and... Gaming?

In my brief tenure as an English teacher, I found that some middle school students have been less than enthusiastic about the learning process. Maybe all of the reading turns ‘em off. Maybe they find the subject matter difficult.

Or maybe they’re just bored to tears.

Enter “stealth education.” That is, circumstances where the student finds the learning process highly enjoyable and wants to continue of his or her own accord. The Liemandt Foundation, a non-profit organization that focuses on improving education, sees great potential in the concept, and is ready to put their money where their mouth is: They’re hosting a contest where teams of up to eight college students create a video game that teaches math and science. The prize is a cool $25,000.

This was taken at the Liemandt Foundation's latest "Lemonade Day," which has nothing to do
with what we're talking about. But it IS hella creepy.

Contestants certainly have their work cut out for them, as previous attempts at “edutainment” have been, shall we say, a few steps below brilliant. (Mario Teaches Typing will forever haunt my restless dreams, and I’m convinced that Mario is Missing was some sort of sadistic programmer’s joke taken to tragic extremes.) The finalists have already been flown to San Francisco to showcase their games and are waiting with baited breath for the judges’ decision.

Let’s just hope the winning entry is better than, say, The Typing of the Dead.

This is not what your mother meant when she said "use your words."

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