Looks like a whole new toy for educators to exploit
The Value of Play IV: Play is Nature’s Way of Teaching Us New Skills
A lucid post from Peter Gray on January 1, 2009 in which he explains how play is a vital part of our successful evolution, how closely play effortlessly generates all the conditions for successful learning and how frustratingly our schools manage to block many of the conditions for successful learning.
At MipTV two lecturers showed us what they’d been doing with Guantanamo Bay in Second Life http://tiny.cc/bM9UW I thought this was a visionary tool for teachers. Pupils can swiftly come closer to the story in a way that hours of news footage are unlikely to ever achieve
The game, which requires you to sign over your avatar to another’s control, also integrates the facts and feelings researched through the footage, interviews, news reports, poetry and other official and personal sources of information around the issue. It’s an amazing piece of work and points to a whole new way of undersatnding War, Peace and Citizenship both formally and informally.
Old people, especially the millions in the UK who don’t have access to a generous pension fund need playgrounds at least as much as they need retirement homes. More than ever at any previous time in their lives, they need opportunities to socialise widely and make new friends. One of the issues facing our society is the rise of a huge retired population. My mum was discussing the regeneration of our town centre and thinking about how we could place old people at the centre of the new market complex. We thought about how public spaces should have places where old and young can mix freely and cheaply, places that are accessible and right in the centre of the action. We talked about this while we sat in a crowded cafe and the unusual owner seated more people by the simple expedient of asking young people sitting on their own if they could shove up to make space for someone else – an old person. We then watched as the generations started to talk. It worked beautifully. We then attended a meeting where we were asked how we could improve the town centre. We raised the question of communal spaces, but the information gatherers couldn’t – or wouldn’t – get it. They wondered, would the generations want to mingle? What good could it possibly do? Maybe we could use the wonderful benefits of gaming to bring them together physically as well as in the virtual world. Eye Toy, Guitar Hero and Wii Fit could be the way forwards – I’m sure there are some old codgers who could deliver a polished rendition of Smoke On the Water to blow away the opposing 13-year olds.
The wonderful literacy expert Sue Palmer drew my attention to the way the alphabet can be taught using movement, with kids using their whole bodies to learn the shapes of letters – a bit like a massive use of the Magic pencil technique used by Clare Elstow in the BBC Words and Pictures series before she took over Cbeebies. Sue saw this technique used in scandinavian primary schools. The Wii and Eye Toy technology seems to me to be made for this.
And the Wii Fit takes this possibility a step further. Another issue for mild cerebral palsy cases – and for many people without the condition – is posture and balancing the weight evenly on both sides of the body – the kind of balance you strive to achieve in an Alexander Technique class. A board that gives you accurate feedback about whether you are using both sides evenly is a significant development. The Wii Fit seems able to do this with an onscreen display to give you your level of wobble. Using this should in theory train you into recognising what your body feels like when you’re standing evenly. But does it know whether you have both feet flat on the board while you do this? Only one way to find out . . .