Thursday, September 01, 2005


I was reading an article by Maria Virvou, George Katsionis, and Konstantinos Manos that was quite interesting. It's called Combining Software Games with Education: Evaluation of its Educational Effectiveness. It can be found in the Educational Technology & Society Journal, 8(2), pages 54-65.

While I enjoyed the article, I can't help but disagree with a main premise of the article. The authors' first sentence reads:

"The process of learning is a very complex cognitive task that can be very imposing on students since it requires a lot of effort from them. Consequently, they need a lot of motivation to cope with it."

In other words, learning is so imposing and complex, that students need motivation in order to learn. I agree with that statement. Very much so. But learning is its own motivation. Kids learn all the time in spite of the fact that it's complex and imposing.

It is my opinion that kids love to learn. I love to learn. It's a fun process. Yes, at times it's difficult, but it's exciting, it's exhilarating.

The main problem I have with the article is that they use learning and going to school synonymously. The authors go on to state:

"School children usually have a preconception of educational means as being totally different from entertainment. entertaining aspect of education would be rather unexpected."

That may be true but it's the school that teaches them learning is not entertainment.

Kids spend their first 5 years learning all sorts of fun thing. When any 5 year old runs up to you and says, with his eyes flashing, "Guess what?", chances are he's learned something and wants to share it with you. He's excited. He had a problem, but he's figured something out.

But then we put them in school, where they have to sit quietly (I'm of the opinion the more you're learning, the more noise you're making), you have to do worksheets, you have to stay inside, you can't chew gum, you can't ask your neighbor a question... And then we tell them that they are 'learning'.

I think learning is doing, learning is fun, learning is often play. Schools just are not in a position to do that very well (I can't barely keep up with my 4 boys when they are 'learning' , let alone a school teacher trying to keep up with 30).

Anyway, the conclusion of the article was that when students learned a specific topic in a fun atmosphere, they learned better. With that aspect, I certainly agree.

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