According to Albert Einstein, “Games are the most elevated form of investigation”.
Anecdotally, this seems to be true. Have you ever watched children play? They can play for hours on end. They are content, self-motivated, and if that play involves others, extremely cooperative. But ask them to do something and their interest and energy suddenly drops. For example, have you ever seen your 16 year old shovel the entire driveway? The only time I have is when I made a game of it. And consider your own experience? Has there been a time when you were so immersed in what you were doing you lost track of time? Doing what we want is entirely different from doing what we are told.
Admittedly, these are examples of how games elevate engagement, but can investigation be far behind? Games, even cooperative games, tend to bring out our competitive nature, or at least our desire to create something better; a better sandcastle, a better strategy, a better outcome. To do that requires investigation of what we are doing and what we want accomplished. The outcome may be uncertain, but we have investment, we have autonomy, we have a hand in achieving it. We have doing what we want. Absent of games, we have chores, duties, a check list not of our own making. We have doing what we’re told.
Does this apply to the classroom? Must we tell them what to do or can we trust them to investigate by incorporating games into learning? Which is of greater benefit to them, doing what they are told based on strict expectations or doing what they want within a defined structure of games? After watching two thought provoking TED Conference presentations, one by Ali Carr-Chellman and one by Jane McGonigal, I am convinced the latter is true in both questions. What I don’t know is how to go about it.
How have you used games to elevate investigation in your classroom or in your workplace? What has worked? What hasn’t?
Thank you for reading and commenting.
Fear seeks safety, Love seeks Truth*. Love fearlessly. Teach Fearlessly.
*Wm. Sloane Coffin