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Books vs. Guitar Hero


If you judged NYC Educator’s literature students solely by the numbers, you’d be pretty impressed with his teaching. They read the books they’re assigned, they pass the tests, and 90 percent of them are getting credit for it. NYC Educator himself is disappointed, however. His students do the work, he says, but they hate reading, something he found out after candidly asking them if they enjoyed an assigned book.

"No one likes books," ventured one kid, unmindful of the conversation that would ensue.
"People love books," I said. "Why do you think every town has a library? Why are those gigantic Barnes and Noble stores in the malls?"
"Only old people like books," said a young woman, with imprudent candor.
I don't remember how I responded to that, as designated representative for old people everywhere. I'm certain, though, it was not altogether favorable, because she said, "That's because you never had anything to do back then. We have computers and video games. We have Guitar Hero."

NYC Educator hasn’t given up hope for his students, but he’s discouraged by the competition reading faces in computers and video games.

I've got another few months to fool them into thinking reading is worthwhile. It's getting tougher to compete with the new toys, though, which seem to get better each year.

This may be part of a larger conversation about the place of 'gaming' in education (I prefer the term 'play'). We are currently involved in an exploration of the potential of 'gaming' in our work at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.

Since I'm a digital immigrant, it's all news to me. In fact, some of the language (see Jane McGonigal, www.youtube.com/futureofmuseums) is downright Orwellian: Game designers are called 'happiness engineers' and games 'the ultimate happiness engines' and 'sustainable, world-changing sources of happiness.' A wiki for the online game World of Warcraft is called a 'knowledge community' where gamers contribute 'cognitive bandwidth.' Pass me the soma!

McGonigal asserts that if we could get gamers to work collaboratively on something meaningful, then it's conceivable that gamers could someday be awarded a Nobel Prize.

In spite of my hesitation to embrace this idea, I'd be interested to learn how gaming is used in classrooms to encourage collaborative work on meaningful tasks.

I think we are schooling many of our kids to be passive consumers rather than active participators in life. Many kids I encounter are so stressed by their lives, particularly their time in school, that they look for recreational passtimes akin to staring at the wall and killing time.

I believe the value of books is being lost because it's only encouraged in the classroom, which makes reading seem like just another annoying homework assignment. There are things that can be done to let students see that books aren't boring. For example, a teacher could introduce students to books that are more comtemporary, or even read a contemporary work in class, to give them something more relatable than the stories typically read in school, which could spark their interest in reading. And while video games are gaining popularity, it doesn't mean that there aren't still plenty of young people, like myself, who prefer reading over playing games.

I agree, I believe that their is a "loss" of books in this generations lifestyle. Gaming, internet access, TV,and technological devicces are so easily assessable to young students that is what they prefer. Students need to re-connect and find a way to enjoy erading once again. Teachers should incoorporate more free-choice books, projects, and assignments to engage the students more. Maybe if hte students had a voice and a way to express their individuality in something they are intrested in they might be more likely to actually read the book and respond to it. To follow up an assignment, teachers could incoorporate technology into the assignment to fit the needs of their students better.

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Recent Comments

  • Sarah C: I agree, I believe that their is a "loss" of read more
  • Emily Adams: I believe the value of books is being lost because read more
  • Cooper Zale: I think we are schooling many of our kids to read more
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