Learning is hard.  It takes time, effort, and engagement.

It’s the payoff that keeps us going.

Unfortunately, like exercise or dieting, in many cases learning has been institutionalized as drudgery. What’s worse is that for those of us over 35 or 40 we learned how to learn in a way that took all the fun out of it.

Or… should I say we “re-learned” how to learn.  Innately we had it right.  We were born curious and experimental appreciating feedback and adjusting happily when we went down the wrong path.

Somehow, somewhere along the line, educational methodology was adopted that extinguished that joy for many students. Learning became like a failed diet or lapsed gym membership.

This morning, thanks to the Upside Learning Blog I read, Good Video Games and Good Learning, a paper written by James Paul Gee, that started me thinking about how to put the fun back in to learning.

We’ve all read blog posts or papers about the value of gaming as applied to learning and training environments, but that wasn’t Gee’s point. Instead, he simply and brilliantly articulated sixteen learning principles, how they are presented in games, and how our current educational methods fare in comparison.

Here are a few of my favorites:

Interaction: “In a good game, words and deeds are all placed in the context of an interactive relationship between the player and the world. So, too, in school, texts and textbooks need to be put in contexts of interaction where the world and other people talk back.”

Production: “Players help “write” the worlds they live in—in school, they should help “write” the domain and the curriculum they study.”

Risk-Taking: “Players are thereby encouraged to take risks, explore, and try new things. In fact, in a game, failure is a good thing.”

Customization: “Games often have different difficulty levels and many good games allow players to solve problems in different ways…Customized curricula in school would not just be about self pacing, but about real intersections between the curriculum and the learner’s interests, desires, and styles.”

Performance before Competence: “Good video games operate by a principle just the reverse of most schools: performance before competence. Players can perform before they are competent, supported by the design of the game…”

Whether you’re a lifelong learner, an educator, or simply fascinated with how people learn, this paper is a must read!

(Photo from CHC Emerging Tech)

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