Monday, July 19, 2010

Trial and Error in education

I recently read the following in an article about changing how we teach, at "They" refers to contemporary students.

"'We know they are different, he said. 'The challenge is to figure out how to reach them. The technology means they learn by trial and error. They are not going to read a manual. The whole educational system is predicated on the notion that failure is a bad thing. But failure means nothing to them.'"

Here is my comment: They've learned to learn this way, but if this method is inappropriate and even deadly in the real world--and sometimes it is--then teachers are duty-bound to teach them the right way, so that they can survive in that real world where their fantasies and their games mean NOTHING. (And remember who's writing this, I've designed games for 50 years, my first commercial games were published 30 years ago. I LIKE games. But they're not the real world.)

I don't want my employees to do things by trial and error, I want them to figure things out and do it right, if not the first time, then very soon thereafter. Failure means a lot in the real world, even though it doesn't in video games. Video games are often designed so that trial-and-error learners can ultimately prosper; the world is not constructed that way.

What we need to change in teaching is this: It's not technology that millennials crave, or trial-and-error, it's interaction with their surroundings (such as they get with video games) and with people (becoming more common in video games). Yet with the dilution and "commoditization" of modern education because of distance learning, we're going the opposite way.
"Always do right--this will gratify some and astonish the rest."Mark Twain
"A designer knows he has achieved perfection not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away." Antoine de Saint-Exup'ery

"Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted." Albert Einstein

"Make everything as simple as possible, but not simpler." Albert Einstein

"The worst form of inequality is to try to make unequal things equal." -- Aristotle