Ed Tech Executive: “Replace Traditional Teaching With Video Games”

I read an article at TES, an educational resource website in the United Kingdom, and I hoped, wished, prayed that it was a parody site or fake news. I say that because the idea promoted within the article is absolutely horrible.

One ed tech executive wants to replace traditional teaching with video games.

This idea has to be the MOST awful thing I’ve heard in education circles, and I’ve seen a lot of awful things. Now, I’m sure we would be told, it’s ok, these are EDUCATIONAL games. It’s like not like kids would be playing Minecraft, Call of Duty, Grand Theft Auto, or Legend of Zelda.

No, these would be games that would teach reading, science, and math or so the argument would go.

Will Hazell at TES reports:

Mohit Midha, the chief executive of Mangahigh, which develops maths games, said young people cannot focus for more than five minutes and that the traditional “instructional phase” in teaching is unnecessary.

Explaining his theory, he said children can learn to play video games like FIFA football without first being taught how.

Mr Midha co-founded Mangahigh with one of the men who set up the company that invented the Candy Crush Saga video game.

Speaking at a debate on artificial intelligence and education organised by the charity Nesta, Mr Midha claimed that “people are obsessed with video games” but are “totally out of love” with “traditional forms of instruction” involving “pen and paper”.

When it came to using technology to improve learning, he said it was important to understand what teachers are trying to achieve in the classroom, but “if we’re always listening to the teachers and trying to innovate around that, then we just end up with a faster horse”.

He continued: “If you look at kids now, and give a video game to a child – give them FIFA 2016 – and give them that for two days, you come back after two days and they’ll be scoring goals, they’ll be doing headers, they’ll be working as teams with other people on the internet, they’ll figure it out.

Read the rest.

The article also cited kids ever-decreasing attention span as a motivating factor for this particular idea.

This idea is akin to saying, “hey some kids are already overweight, they don’t like vegetables, so let’s give them more sugar, but we’ll make sure they have plenty of protein and vitamins as well.” Would anyone think that is a good idea? I hope not.

Just like kids with weight issues should cut back on sugar and pick up nutritious food instead, kids with attention problems should put down the tech and pick up a book. In both cases, less is more.

Not only will Mr. Midha’s education theory further decrease students’ attention span, but leaving students to their own devices, both literally and figuratively, there will be a lot of holes in what a student actually knows.

Let’s Not Let Students in California Control Taxpayer-Funded Budgets

I read an article in The Orange County Register that left me shaking my head. A columnist, Joe Mathews, suggested allowing students in California to control large district and state education budgets.

It is a colossally bad idea. It is a ridiculously bad idea. It is such a bad idea that I can’t believe he had the audacity to publicly articulate it.

Mathews writes:

California education finances are an unholy mess — with incomprehensible budget formulas, equity funding that doesn’t produce equity, and cuts to schools even during the current economic expansion. And our state’s so-called education leaders refuse to fix the system.

We should let the kids fix it instead.

This isn’t a modest proposal: I’m as serious as a month’s detention. To fashion something workable from California’s broken education-funding system, we should give budget powers to the students themselves.

It’s not a radical idea. Students already make financial decisions in schools in San Jose, Sacramento, Phoenix and Chicago — often about school-site capital spending — as part of a popular process called participatory budgeting. New York Mayor Bill de Blasio recently gave all his city’s public high schools these budget powers.

Typically, students in these processes spend less than $100,000 (though Paris, France allows students to allocate $10 million). But given California’s problems, we should expand participatory budgeting for bigger budgets at the district and statewide level.

You might argue that decisions about the $80 billion that California spends annually on schools should be made exclusively by adults.

Except that we’ve already let the adults do it, and it would be impossible for the kids to do worse.

Some obvious problems here: 1. Kids pay very, very little in taxes. Why in the world should a group who does little to fund the schools control the budget? They shouldn’t. 2. Kids are not accountable to taxpayers, elected officials are.

The claim that “adults” have had a chance to make decisions is a ridiculous notion. The problem is that the wrong adults with the wrong ideas have the majority in the California legislature. California, from this Midwestern’s perspective, seems to be run by people who think money grows on trees.

How about putting fiscally-disciplined adults in charge? By that, I mean adults who know how to budget. These are would run the state’s budget like they run their household budget or business budget.

If you put those people in charge that will clear up budgetary messes. Putting kids who lack life experience, maturity, budgetary knowledge, and wisdom in charge of education budgets would be a disaster.