I’d rather be a farmer!

Photo credit: Larry Cuban on school reform

From the ages of 17 to 22 years old, I spent numerous Christmas, Easter and Summer holidays working in a variety of factories. I have worked in furniture factories, crisp factories, video-packaging factories; I have even worked in slaughterhouses. During my time in these factories, I worked in various locations found inside most modern factories. These included the assembly line, the packaging zone, the storage bay, the canteen and the warehouse.

So..what did I learn from my time in factories?

I didn’t like them! In fact, I really didn’t like them!

Why?

I didn’t like them because I didn’t feel challenged. In fairness, it must be added that I was also extremely lazy when I was 17 to 22 years old.

Did I learn anything?

Yes. Absolutely!

Was it worthwhile learning?

Hmm…I definitely learned a variety of factory skills (life-skills?) i.e. how to correctly wrap plastic roll around a large cardboard box or how important it was to keep your knife sharp when you were slicing through a dead turkey.

Personally, I found the work unrewarding, repetitive and dull. I just didn’t gain any sense of satisfaction from the different jobs I was doing.

And now we are calling the current, and previous, 150 years of educational modus operandi ‘The Factory Model’. Wow! I mean from a personal and research point of view the term certainly seems to fit; and that my friends is worrying!

Ironically, the skills required by the game curriculum—problem identification, hypothesis testing, analysis, interpretation, and strategic thinking more closely align with the new economy than does the “factory” model of curriculum, which privileges following directions, mastering predefined objectives, performance on highly structured tasks, and intellectual obedience (Gee, Hull, and Lankshear 1996). In short, schools are designed around factory models of education, where the goal is to efficiently produce standardized learners and, most importantly, sort students into those groups and games are products of the new economy, where the goal is to think creatively with digital tools (Bowles and Gintis 1976; Lagemann 1989).  Changing the game – what happens when video games enter the classroom – Kurt Squire

There is no denying that factories are an essential part of the industrial world, but do I really want my children, and the children I teach, to be a part of this system?

I don’t know how many times I have seen educators use this animated video of Ken Robinson’s ‘Changing Educational Paradigms’ to espouse the virtues of the creative over the factory model of teaching and learning.

Yet no matter how many times the different groups of educational lecturers, teachers and administrators infuse the audience with Mr Robinson’s superb ideas and summaries, we always come back to the baseline – does it fit into the current school and curriculum-based system that we operate?

And the answer is most definitely ‘No’!

Is this where we leave it then? Again the answer is most definitely ‘No’!

I suggest that in today’s digitally flipped world we are being given more tools than ever to create farming zones within these rigid educational factories. Some of these tools include the flipped (or rotated classroom), Student led learning as well as Gamification and Game-based learning.

Right now, even if you had the ideal game—a more polished Civilization III or perhaps a Full Spectrum Scientist, it is not certain that such a game could even survive in today’s educational environment as our contemporary educational systems do not know how to sustain a curricular innovation built on the properties that make games compelling. Changing the game – what happens when video games enter the classroom – Kurt Squire

Game-based learning allows the factory to become a farm

Here is an example of how you can start to bring the rural creativity of farm-based learning into your factory. This Historical game is based on a previous game-based learning activity which I posted last year.

Can I also add that I trialled this lesson with my Year Three (Grade 2) students last year and that it worked like a dream. Reactions included intense dialogue which lasted into the break time and beyond, personal refection on their failure as an individual/group or class, the unfairness of the whole game and the difficultly of living in the Stone Age.

Game

Unit plan – Lesson 2

Weekly ‘End of level Boss’!

This week my end of level boss will be to introduce the game – Civilization Revolution for the iPad into pre-lesson time /break time and lunch time sessions.

Although all the students already have their own iPads, they don’t have this game on their devices so I will provide two pairs of pre-selected students with my own iPads and ask them to try and complete one game (over the course of a week) on intermediate level difficulty.

The reason for this – After reading the article Changing the game by Kurt Squire I am interested to see the reaction a more compact/child friendly version of the game might have on my own students. I aim to use a high achieving none-game playing pair of students and a lower achieving game-playing pair of students to test the game as future platform for Historical learning within the classroom/school.

Results of last week’s ‘End of level Boss’!

Overall, the students seemed to love the game.

However, the most interesting aspect of the students playing the game Nitrotype , was my introduction to another game – Dance Mat typing. If you are thinking of teaching ‘Touch Typing’ I would definitely recommend this as a possible game-based solution.

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