Your Number One Goal – Eliminate Boredom

The words of Marc Prensky are still finding spaces and places inside my brain. He issues his commands not as a dictator but as a benevolent leader in the world of educational technology. If the name doesn’t trigger any Pavlovian responses then maybe the term ‘digital native’ will. His 2001 book, Digital Game-Based Learning was a global hit. Prensky espouses a metaphor based learning experience. His background uniquely equips him to install the metaphor in a gaming platform to create goal oriented, self-directed educational programs. How can teachers apply this metaphor in the classroom to achieve increased motivation and self directed learning? It is one thing to create an alternative game-world and another to live in the harsh light of the classroom.

“What do we NOT have to teach?” ..get rid of multiplication tables, he insisted. Kids should be engaged in productivity and not relentless repetition. (my interpretation) Hmm, and … Prensky used an analogy and his ppt slide to illustrate the paradigm shift in culture between the under 2o somethings and the rest of us. A dimly lit slide with few words appeared. That’s us, he noted and went on to explain that we lived in the dark and went to school for enlightenment. Now, according to Prensky, kids live in the light and come to school only to become powered down dim shadows of themselves. “They are NOT little us’s.” My own analogy sees the de-teching-of-students process as a daily de-clawing. Some consider de-clawing inhumane while others agree that if the cat(student) is to remain indoors and never encounter any predators (real world problems) it’s simply practical and efficacious to de-claw. Is that any way for us to prepare our future leaders? Must we strip them of their resources and potential? I suppose the alternative is even scarier, even to me. So we create boredom?

Prensky believes we underestimate what kids can do. We need to understand their unique point of view as digital natives. They are a culture of people who value sharing, teaching each other and collaborating. In general, the older generations valued knowledge as power. Knowledge is no longer a commodity, or is it? If the younger generations have a different world view and they are engaged as digital citizens constructing networks, sharing knowledge and learning in spite of school, then what can school offer them? Eliminate boredom. Hmm…

You know why Prensky is truly a genius? It’s simple. He goes to the source. REsources, he says means more than one source. He asks kids at every opportunity to share their ideas with him. He values children. He cultivates them and respects them and he thinks this may be what’s missing in education. Have you asked your students to tell you what they’d like to learn? Have you given them the freedom to solve relevant problems? Have you invited them to share in classroom decisions regularly? How do you feel about surrendering control to the students? Do you think there is a way to harness the power of cell phones and ipods for education? What do you tell them when they get bored? Do you tell them learning isn’t always fun? Do you really believe that? Eliminate boredom. Hmm…

Can everyday really be filled with meaning, purpose, engagement, community, interactivity and learning?


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3 Responses to “Your Number One Goal – Eliminate Boredom”

  1. Gail Says:

    Are you suggesting undermining the entire education system by eliminating boredom! Heresy! What will happen to traditional family conversations like:
    Mother, “So, what did you learn in school today?”
    Daughter, “Nothing.”

    Actually, sounds very exciting! And you’re on the front line. Viva la revolution!

  2. Jill Says:

    I think you make some excellent points here. I especially like the idea that current students are not “little us’s.” I have too many teachers that don’t have a frame of reference to understand that.

    Interestingly I teach a graduate computer class and my mantra is “relevance and choice.” The teachers love it. Yet, at the end of the course when I summarize and suggest they take those concepts to their classrooms – I am usually met with blank stares – after all – that wasn’t they way they were taught in high school….

  3. ripplingpond Says:

    Jill, I think I will borrow your mantra next time I do a professional development workshop! I would love to know what you cover in your computer class and how you present it to students. Thank you for you comments.

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