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Video Game Literacy Project Home
This project began as almost all pieces of homework begin for any student, as a huge, looming drudgery. In the case of this assignment, it's a paper in which I'm supposed to write about a current field of research in English education, study an author or authors in the field, and build upon my own pedagogical philosophies. Sounds like a ton of fun!
In my case, it actually is fun. I did my research on video game literacy. One of the things I've learned in this grad program is that the key to survival is to make things as fun and engaging as possible. This doesn't mean you cut corners and slack around just to get by with passing grades. Just because something is fun doesn't mean it's easy or not a meaningful pursuit. As a growing educator myself, one thing my 7th graders taught me this semester is that if you make something fun & engaging, it's something that can be easily learned. I'd already intuitively known this for quite some time, I just didn't have it etched into my philosophical foundations. Video games have always been fun and engaging for me, but with the evolution of video games, they're becoming fun and engaging for a much larger audience. Their potential for teaching is growing right along with the technology that goes into the creation of these games.
I thought by getting into this field of study that it would be riddled with land mines of fringe philosophy. That anything form of research I would find would be written by a wiry haired game-o-phile writing from the basement of his mother's house. In turn, using such a professional's opinion to support my own ideas left me feeling a little discouraged, and quite frankly a little embarrassed (and NOT because I too still technically live in my mother's basement and play video games). I was thankfully wrong in my assumptions when I came across a major contemporary scholar on the subject of video game literacy, James Paul Gee.
James Paul Gee is a professor at Arizona State University. He received his Ph.D in linguistics from Stanford University and has been publishing in the field of "new literacy studies" since the early 1990's. I think this is significant, because my own interest in video games, and their subsequent applications toward literacy and my own classroom, stems from this idea of the modern, digital world and the new ways in which information is communicated and received.
It is this changing world we live in that makes me take a step back from the school of thought that says "our children are doomed, no one knows how to read anymore!" I believe that in our connected world of ethernet, 500 channel television, cell phones, and iPods, that our children today are simply more savvy and capable than we realize, and that quite frankly, the written word is simply an outdated form of communication for them.
Make no mistake, I'm not trying to play down the importance of reading the printed word. I believe it is essential, to a point where it is critical. The problem is that our children today are too easily bored, just like I am. Why on earth would they sit down and read a dusty old tome, with the words "The Lord of the Rings" printed across the top of it when they can sit down in front of a computer and create their OWN character on Blizzard's World of Warcraft, and live out their own epic fantasy adventure?
Why would they listen to a teacher's lecture on the history of the Italian Renaissance when they can stalk the streets as Ezio Auditore and tour Florence themselves in Assassin's Creed 2? These are the questions I've asked myself for years as a student, and now as I'm about to enter the teaching world, it is with a great sense of pride that I begin my exploration into video games and their capacity for literacy and education. While this journey will probably not yield any definite answers, it is not a definite answer I'm looking for to such questions as those posed about WoW or Assassin's Creed. Rather, it is what we do with those questions, and in what direction we go in our public schools, to adapt and educate a young, intelligent generation that is waiting for a world that is progressing more rapidly than we can keep up with.
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|kpedro||Research paper = win||0||Nov 30 2009, 9:15 PM EST by kpedro|
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