According to a 2009 study by the American Life Project, 97% of teenaged Americans play some form of videogame, be that on the computer, the internet, on a handheld or on a console. Games are everywhere, and they’re here to stay.
On the flip side of that coin, a 2006 educational report by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation entitled The Silent Epidemic identified that upon questioning large stratified sample of US high school drop-outs over why they hadn’t received their high school diploma. 47% of the interviewees cited their main reason for a lack of success as ‘classes not interesting.’ If we correlate this with a separate study by the Alliance for the Excellence in Education which puts the amount of drop-outs each year to be around 1.2 million, we can make a reasonable case for there being around 600,000 drop-outs who just couldn’t find themselves motivated by the educational system in its current guise, and that’s just in the US alone.
I believe there must be a link between these two seemingly disparate facts. They simply can’t be a coincidence: gaming has surely done something to the education system, and it’s not necessarily a good thing.
Please don’t misunderstand the article – this won’t be an attempt to debunk gaming as something that corrupts innocent young minds; the educational ‘problem’ gaming presents goes much deeper than such a shallow reading of events. In essence, I’m hoping to address the problem not in terms of what we engage with, but how we engage with it, and how videogames and technology in general has changed this all-important trait.
But one thing is clear- there certainly has been a change. We’ve adapted our thought processes to fit our digital lives, and that’s bad news for the education system. Yet we shouldn’t despair. Whilst this article will argue that the current education system has been found wanting by the advent of gaming, it will also argue that the solution for these problems come from the games themselves.
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This article was first posted on September 24, 2012