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Learning by Playing

September 16, 2010

This article was published September 15, 2010 in the New York Times. Just to pique your interest, I’ve pulled out a paragraph from page four and posted it below, but the entire piece is well worth the time it takes to read.

“Even as technology spending in K-12 public education has risen steadily in the last 20 years, student performance — as measured by test results — has improved only incrementally. Meanwhile, children are proving to be wildly adaptive when it comes to using media outside school. They are fervently making YouTube videos, piloting avatars through complex game scenarios, sampling music, lighting up social networks and inventing or retooling (or purists would say, bludgeoning) language so that it better suits the text-messaging pay plan on their cellphones, only to show up to school to find cellphones outlawed, Internet access filtered and computers partitioned off from the rest of the classroom — at least in many cases. Michael H. Levine, who directs the Joan Ganz Cooney Center, acknowledges the conundrum. While there may be sound reasons behind limiting things like Internet browsing and social networking at school, he says, it does little to teach students how to live in the 21st century. It also may contribute to a broader relevancy issue. A 2006 study financed by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation set out to examine the reasons that almost a third of American public-high-school students fail to graduate with their class. Researchers surveyed high-school dropouts in 25 cities, suburbs and small towns across the country, where they were told again and again that school was boring. The final report recommended, among other things, that educators take steps to “make school more relevant and engaging.”

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