recentpopularlog in

robertogreco : zpd   4

Dewey knew how to teach democracy and we must not forget it | Aeon Essays
"In 1897, Dewey described his ‘pedagogic creed’ as ‘individualistic’ and ‘socialistic’ because it sees the need to nurture each child’s unique talents and interests in a supportive community. …

For Dewey, however, it was not enough to ensure that his own children received a good education. He maintained that the future of US democracy hinged on offering a well-rounded, personalised education to all children and not just those of the wealthy, intelligent or well-connected. Dewey’s pedagogic creed is that ‘education is the fundamental method of social progress and reform’. Schools could teach students and communities to exercise autonomy and make democracy a concrete reality. The very name of the Laboratory School suggests that Dewey wanted the ideas developed there to be disseminated among education researchers and policymakers. What was unacceptable was a two-tiered education system that reinforced class and racial divisions. …

Why does this matter? Progressive education teaches children to pursue their own interests and exercise their voice in their community. In the 20th century, these kinds of young people participated in the movements against the Vietnam War and for civil rights. They founded Greenpeace and Students for a Democratic Society, listened to the Beatles and attended Woodstock, and established artistic communities and organic groceries. Though Dewey was not a beatnik, a hippy or a countercultural figure himself, his philosophy of education encourages young people to fight for a world where everyone has the freedom and the means to express their own personality. The education reform movement is not just about making kids take standardised tests; it is about crushing a rebellious spirit that often gives economic and political elites a headache. …

Dewey’s philosophy exercised a profound impact on US education in the mid-20th century. One reason is that many powerful individuals and groups advocated his ideas, including at Teachers College, Columbia University, as well as at the Progressive Education Association, at the US Office of Education and at state departments of education. Dewey’s influence peaked during the ‘Great Compression’, the decades after the Second World War when the middle class had the clout to say that what is good for wealthy people’s kids is what is good for their own. In Democracy and Education, Dewey envisioned schools ‘equipped with laboratories, shops and gardens, where dramatisations, plays and games are freely used’. If a public school has a gymnasium, an art studio, a garden, a playground or a library, then one can see Dewey’s handiwork.

In 1985, a few scholars wrote a book called The Shopping Mall High School to deride the tendency in the US to offer a wide array of courses, many of which have a tenuous connection to academic subjects. For Dewey, however, the other side of this story is that schools and communities were trying to find ways to engage children. As we shall see, Dewey did not think that schools should simply pander to children’s current interests. At the same time, he opposed efforts to impose a ready-made curriculum on children across the country – or, more pointedly, on those whose parents could not afford to send them to private schools. …

The task of the teacher, according to Dewey, is to harness the child’s interest to the educational process. ‘The problem of instruction is thus that of finding material which will engage a person in specific activities having an aim or purpose of moment or interest to him.’ Teachers can employ Dewey’s insight by having a pet rabbit in the classroom. As students take care of the animal, and watch it hop about the classroom, they become interested in a host of topics: how to feed animals, the proper care of animals, the occupation of veterinarians, and biology. Rather than teach material in an abstract manner to young children, a wise teacher brings the curriculum into ‘close quarters with the pupil’s mind’.

According to Dewey, teachers should cultivate a student’s natural interest in the flourishing of others. It is a mistake to interpret interest as self-interest. Our thriving is intimately connected with the flourishing of other people. The role of democratic education is to help children see their own fate as entwined with that of the community’s, to see that life becomes richer if we live among others pursuing their own interests. Democracy means ‘equitably distributed interests’. All children – rich, poor, black, white, male, female, and so forth – should have the opportunity to discover and cultivate their interests. Schools ought to be the site where we model a society that reconciles individualism and socialism, and that allows each child to add her own distinct voice to society’s choir.

What is controversial about Dewey’s concept of interest? Sometimes, far-right groups share the following quote attributed to Dewey: ‘Children who know how to think for themselves spoil the harmony of the collective society, which is coming, where everyone is interdependent.’ There is no factual basis for this attribution, and for good reason: it contravenes Dewey’s ambition to achieve a higher synthesis between strong-willed individuals and a democratic society, not to crush a child’s individuality for the sake of social uniformity. Dewey makes this point crystal clear in his essay ‘The School and Society’ (1899), where he announces a Copernican revolution in education whereby ‘the child becomes the sun about which the appliances of education revolve’.

Here, then, we understand the explosive core of Dewey’s philosophy of education. He wants to empower children to think for themselves and cooperate with each other. The purpose of widely distributing interests is to break down ‘barriers of class, race, and national territory’ and ‘secure to all the wards of the nation equality of equipment for their future careers’. Imagine a world without racism or sexism, one where all children get the same kind of education as the wisest and wealthiest parents demand for their own children, and one that trains workers to question whether their interests are being served by the current ownership and use of the means of production. Dewey is the spiritual head of the New Left whose writings have both inspired teachers and infused schools, and provoked a reaction from those who detest this political vision. …

Dewey believes that educators need to place themselves in the mind of the child, so to speak, to determine how to begin their education journeys. ‘An end which is the child’s own carries him on to possess the means of its accomplishment.’ Many parents who take their families to children’s museums are acting upon this idea. A good museum will teach children for hours without them ever becoming conscious of learning as such. Climbing through a maze gives children opportunities to solve problems; floating vessels down an indoor stream teaches children about water and hydrodynamics; building a structure with bricks and then placing it on a rumbling platform introduces children to architecture: all of these activities make learning a joy.

For Dewey, however, it is essential that educators lead children on a considered path to the cutting-edge of scientific knowledge on a multitude of topics. A good teacher will place stimuli in front of children that will spark their imagination and inspire them to solve the problem at hand. The goal is to incrementally increase the challenges so that students enter what the Russian psychologist Lev Vygotsky in the 1920s called ‘the zone of proximal development’ where they stretch their mental faculties. At a certain point, children graduate from museums and enter a more structured curriculum. There can be intermediary or supplementary steps – say, when they make a business plan, learn to sail, or intern at an architect’s office. Eventually, teachers have to rely on traditional methods of reading, lecturing and testing to make sure that students learn the material.

In the conclusion to ‘The Child and the Curriculum’, Dewey enjoins: ‘Let the child’s nature fulfil its own destiny, revealed to you in whatever of science and art and industry the world now holds as its own.’ He has faith that the child’s nature will find expression in the highest forms of human endeavour and that, for example, a kindergarten artist might grow into an accomplished painter. Dewey also believes that individual expression tends to lead to socially beneficial activities. These articles of faith are not necessarily vindicated by experience. Sometimes children choose the wrong path, and sometimes well-educated individuals seek to profit from other people’s misery. …

Dewey shows us that appeals to democracy carry weight. We recoil at the notion that some children deserve a better education than others because of their parents’ political or economic status. Nobody will say with a straight face that wealthy children should be raised to lead, while middle- or lower-class children are raised to follow, or that the kind of education available at the finest private schools in the US should be an exclusive privilege of those born with silver spoons in their mouths. ‘What the best and wisest parent wants for his own child, that must the community want for all of its children. Any other ideal for our schools is narrow and unlovely; acted upon, it destroys our democracy.’ Dewey’s words ring as true today as they did a century ago. In the face of the unrelenting attack of the education reform movement, we must fight to actualise Dewey’s vision of great schools providing the foundation for a living democracy."
via:anne  education  johndewey  sfsh  openstudioproject  tcsnmy  lcproject  democracy  schools  learning  pedagogy  society  individualism  individuals  community  class  inequality  us  policy  rttt  nclb  anationatrisk  race  training  howweteach  meaning  purpose  elitism  theshoppingmallhighschool  edhirsch  hannaharendt  vygotsky  zpd  interests  interest-basedlearning  children  criticalthinking  autonomy  interest-drivenlearning 
august 2016 by robertogreco
Make Games - This is an excerpt from the Spelunky book, which...
[via: "Thinking about this but for learning:"
https://twitter.com/tealtan/status/754162176345210880
along with
http://tevisthompson.com/saving-zelda/
https://medium.com/@helvetica/full-thoughts-on-pokemon-go-from-my-interview-on-the-verge-178b97b1112b ]

"Indifference

I played games everywhere as a kid—on my parents’ PC and their Atari 2600, at the arcades, in the car with my Game Boy, and at friends’ houses where I was introduced to Chinese pirate multicarts and exotic game systems like the Neo Geo and TurboGrafx-16. But for me, that era still belongs to Nintendo. My uncle was the first in my family to get a Nintendo Entertainment System (NES), and I spent entire visits playing Super Mario Bros. and Duck Hunt. When I wasn’t playing, I’d read my new issue of Nintendo Power compulsively until the next month’s issue. No one in the 80s built worlds as magical and well-crafted as Nintendo did. And although many talented men and women deserve credit for that, the one who stands out among them all is the developer who I was most excited to see in the crowd at IGF 2007: Shigeru Miyamoto.

Miyamoto once said that his childhood exploration of the Kyoto countryside was the inspiration for creating The Legend of Zelda, a top-down action-adventure game set in the fictional land of Hyrule. Recalling the time he discovered a lake while hiking, he explained, “It was quite a surprise for me to stumble upon it. When I traveled around the country without a map, trying to find my way, stumbling on amazing things as I went, I realized how it felt to go on an adventure like this.“ It’s the perfect way to describe my experience with The Legend of Zelda as a child, when my dad and I spent many hours meticulously exploring and mapping Hyrule. As I moved from screen to screen, slaying monsters and prodding the environment for hidden secrets, he would mark them down on our map with colored pencils.

It felt like we were Lewis and Clark trekking across the American West. I’ll never forget the first time I entered a dungeon and watched the bright greens, browns, and yellows of the overworld give way to ominous blues and reds—the sound of Link’s footsteps on stairs heralding the eerie dungeon music that still echoes in every Nintendo kid’s ears. It seems strange now, but in The Legend of Zelda no one tells you where the first dungeon is located. It’s possible to wander into the farthest reaches of Hyrule before locating it, and when you find the entrance—a gaping black “mouth” beckoning you into a giant tree—you may not necessarily know what you have found.

In a 2003 interview with SuperPlay magazine, Miyamoto recalled the day the game was released: “I remember that we were very nervous since The Legend of Zelda was our first game that forced the players to think what they should do next.” This bold and risky design, based on the joy of discovery, had a huge impact on me as a game designer. In Spelunky, as in all of my games, I wanted to capture the same emotions I had on that first adventure.

Unfortunately, that feeling about Hyrule waned with each successive game. Even as the worlds grew more beautiful and vibrant, a feeling of disappointment clouded my initial wondrous experience. Part of it is that I grew up. Zelda is 30 years old now, and in that time I’ve played 30 years’ worth of games and released some of my own. But while it’s harder to surprise me now, it also doesn’t appear that the series is as interested in trying. If the original Zelda game was made only for children, I might chalk it up to my age, but revisiting it as a “Classic Series” Game Boy Advance reissue, I was amazed at how strange and wild it still felt compared to the later games, and to modern games in general. It was like returning to the wilderness after a long hiatus, trying to get back in touch with senses that had been steadily dulled.

In Tevis Thompson’s brilliant 2012 essay “Saving Zelda,” Thompson likened modern installments of the game to theme parks, saying, “Skyward Sword, with its segregated, recycled areas and puzzly overworld dungeons, is not an outlier; it is the culmination of years of reducing the world to a series of bottlenecks, to a kiddie theme park (this is not an exaggeration: Lanayru Desert has a roller-coaster).” Gone is the wild frontier that I explored with my dad and the Kyoto countryside that inspired the series, replaced by something that feels too linear, too elegant, too smooth, too… designed? Quests have been turned into fun house games with obvious goals and rewards. “Secrets” are outlined with bright, flashing signposts. A theme park is exactly what it feels like.

Is a theme park necessarily a bad thing, though? I also have great memories of going to Disneyland, Magic Mountain, and other amusement parks. But leaving the park after a full day of riding rides and eating cotton candy, I’m not eager to go back the next day or even the next week or month. The thrills are garish and over-the-top, but also obvious and safe. Compare a theme park to that Kyoto countryside—Miyamoto purportedly came across a cave during his explorations and hesitated for days before eventually going inside. Why did that cave feel so dangerous to him, even though there was likely nothing inside? Why did my wife and I feel the same trepidation as adults in Hawaii, when we ducked into a little path carved into a bamboo field off the side of the road?

Thompson continues:
Hyrule must become more indifferent to the player. It must aspire to ignore Link. Zelda has so far resisted the urge to lavish choice on the player and respond to his every whim, but it follows a similar spirit of indulgence in its loving details, its carefully crafted adventure that reeks of quality and just-for-you-ness. But a world is not for you. A world needs a substance, an independence, a sense that it doesn’t just disappear when you turn around (even if it kinda does). It needs architecture, not level design with themed wallpaper, and environments with their own ecosystems (which were doing just fine before you showed up). Every location can’t be plagued with false crises only you can solve, grist for the storymill.

It’s easy to mistake Thompson’s assertion that “Hyrule must become more indifferent to the player” for an assertion that game developers shouldn’t care about the player or shouldn’t guide the player toward their ultimate vision. What it means is that the guides must be a natural part of the world, and the world, like Miyamoto’s cave, must simply exist. If a world is independent and self-sufficient, so are its inhabitants. If every part of a world exists only for the player, both the world and the hero will feel artificial.

Nintendo wasn’t the only developer to lose sight of that cave in Kyoto. All game creators must control the player’s experience to a degree, and it’s easy to take it too far—this is particularly true of large studios with bigger budgets that they have to recoup from audiences that include many casual players. Designers often mistake intentionality for good game design: We think that a cave must have a treasure chest in it, and if there’s a treasure chest it must be guarded by a monster, and if there’s treasure in the cave, then the player must find it, and if the player must find it, then there has to be a map that leads the player to the cave. That feels like good design because we took the time to plan it out and in the end the player did what we expected. But it doesn’t guarantee that the player will feel like they’re on a true adventure, making genuine discoveries.

Creating Spelunky was the perfect project to help me think about what a true adventure meant to me. Working by myself on a small freeware game made it easier to focus on my personal vision instead of what other people wanted. Using Game Maker allowed me to focus on game design rather than technology. And then there was the randomization of the levels, which made it impossible to fully control the player’s experience. All I could do was create the building blocks of the world and set them in motion—what came out could be as surprising and indifferent to me as it was to the players."
derekyu  games  gaming  videogames  spelunky  zelda  edg  srg  learning  howwelearn  shigerumiyamoto  exploration  worlds  kyoto  caves  hyrule  zpd  design  gamedesign  maps  mapping  techgnology  autonomy  experience  amusementparks  themeparks  legendofzelda  nintendo 
july 2016 by robertogreco
Full Thoughts on Pokemon Go from my interview on The Verge — Medium
[via: "And the ideas of "intentional obtuseness" in Pokemon Go (and Snapchat):"
https://twitter.com/tealtan/status/754162625802534912
along with these:
http://makegames.tumblr.com/post/147367627844/this-is-an-excerpt-from-the-spelunky-book-which
http://tevisthompson.com/saving-zelda/ ]

"Andrew Webster over at The Verge interviewed Rami Ismail, Asher Vollmer, and I about Pokemon Go. It's a great piece and the thoughts from Asher and Rami are very good. You should read the piece.

Pokemon Go has been as divisive as it has been phenomenal, so I wanted to post up the full-text from the interview now that parts are up online.

--- Do you think it's a good game / does it do what it sets out to do successfully?

I think Pokemon Go is a great game.

To really understand why it's important to recognize that some games are made great by their mechanics, and some are made great by their communities. Since games really only exist when they are being played, it's very difficult (or maybe impossible) to meaningfully separate a community from a game itself. I think a lot about something my friend and fellow designer Doug Wilson (JS Joust, B.U.T.T.O.N.) told me once about how he designs games: Unlike most developers I know, Doug makes games not by designing intricate and mentally exciting systems, but by looking for interactions that are just physically or emotionally fun to do. I think recognizing this emotional/physical aspect to games is key to understanding much of what Pokemon Go has done brilliantly.

I've seen twitter folks and reviewers complaining about the experience being good but the game itself being bad, but i'm not sure it's entirely fair to pick it apart like that. "What the game is mechanically" or at least what it appears to be mechanically is a huge part of what's drawing so many people to play it, and the biggest, most magical part of playing Pokemon Go right now is that it's the first real-world sized, real world game. By which I mean, the game not only takes place in the real world, but it has enough players to fill it up.

--- Does it even matter if it's "good"?

I think what people are claiming as "bad" is actually a creeping component of modern viral game design — opaque UI. Theres no indication yet as to if the extremely awkward UI of Pokemon Go was intentional or not, but either way I think the aggressive obfuscation (and lacking tutorialization) of the deeper game mechanics is doing a lot to bring players in. Not only is it hiding the more complicated parts of the game from new players, but it enables a lot of discovery sharing amongst friends, kids and parents, websites and readers, etc. Beyond the confusing gym-battle UI you can see this practice stretches into many clearly intentional design decisions in the game: Battle-use items only show up around level 8, Great Balls at level 12, and the pokedex keeps expanding as you find higher and higher numbered Pokemon. These early-level omissions both simplify the game and add to the excitement of players discovering them. How many pokemon are even in this game? I have no idea, but I sure want to find out!

--- What do you think are the most important design aspects that led to it blowing up like this? (i.e. things other than it being Pokemon)

Obviously Pokemon being a gigantic brand is the single biggest thing contributing to the massive player explosion, but no brand is powerful enough to do something like this on it's own — it had to be paired with the perfect game.

Pokemon Go does a lot of things very right, and some of the easiest to spot pop up pretty quickly when you compare it to older team-based AR games like ConQwest or Niantic's own Ingress. Unlike those prior AR games, Pokemon Go is not initially (or necessarily ever) a competitive game. Additionally, like many of the most successful mobile games, you can grasp the entire initial ruleset from watching someone else play the game.

It seems obvious to say, but I believe one of the most substantial features of Pokemon Go is that just walking around catching Pokemon is fun, even if you do absolutely nothing else. And while it seems simple, there are a lot of clever mechanics supporting this small action. The hilariously jankey but stressful ball tossing minigame is just hard enough to make you feel proud when you catch a pokemon, but still incredibly accessible. The vaguely detective-like tracking interface gives you a good reason to rush outside if theres a new pokemon silhouette, while still making them just hard enough to find to encourage strangers on the street to offer unsolicited advice to other players. Even the AR component is used appropriately sparingly to drive home the collecting game. While the technology is still rough, it works just well enough to cement our belief that pokemon are actually in places, and drives the language that players use to communicate with each other ("Theres a squirtle on that corner!"). AR gives the more visible and obvious side-bennefit of social image sharing, but I think its most successful function in Pokemon Go is it's capacity to feed our imaginations. Despite being an AR game, Pokemon Go is still largely played in our imaginations, just like any other game, and being able to see a Pikachu on a street-corner just for a second fuels our fantasy worlds immensely.

--- As a designer what are the most interesting aspects of the game / phenomenon to you? LIke what are things you would like to pull from it for your own?

One of the most exciting things about the success of Pokemon Go is that it gives us a blueprint for what people want out of augmented reality. As far as I can tell, the biggest thing we want from it is social camaraderie — which, feels like it should be obvious, but clearly was not when you look at just how few prior AR games have been non-competitive. Less excitingly but just as obviously, AR game players want to see and interact with other players around them. While news outlets joke that Pokemon Go is a great excuse to go out into the real world and then ignore it, I'd argue that while Pokemon Go players are potentially less connected to the physical outdoors than non-players, they're more connected to the social fabric of society outside. I've interacted with more strangers in NYC in a few days of playing Pokemon than in the last decade I lived there. In aggressively fractured world of headphones and podcasts and socially-filtered news, it's really exciting to see a piece of tech that makes the social space feel vast and whole again.

Of course, there are developers and thinkers out there who are sad to see AR require such high-levels engagement to take off, lamenting that this kind of feat is only viable to global brands, and while that may be true, I think this kind of game coming out only makes it more accessible to indies. I'm certainly not saying that it is accessible to indies, but that this can only help. Not only does it introduce huge swaths of people to AR games, but it also shows us what we're up against if we want to make something like this, and the first thing that makes solving an impossible problem easier knowing exactly what the problem is."
vi:tealtan  pokemongo  2016  games  gaming  play  interface  ux  learning  howelearn  howweplay  videogames  andrewwebster  ramiismail  ashervollmer  zachgage  ar  design  ui  snapchat  srg  edg  gamedesign  zpd  howwelearn  exploration  pokémongo  augmentedreality 
july 2016 by robertogreco
tevis thompson: Saving Zelda
"A world is more than a space, more than a place; it is something to inhabit & be inhabited by. What you infuse a space w/ to make it habitable, to make it memorable (since memory is profoundly spatial), gives the place its character, its soul…

Zelda would be better if it had no story…no plot to structure the adventure…first Zs barely had any plot…were better for it. With plot, sequence matters too much…early Zs had situations, worlds & scenarios that framed action, gaps to be filled in by player, sequences to be broken. Optimal paths & shortcuts weren’t a given; they had to be earned. Items were the most prominent plot devices, & even they were not unduly strict about order. You could be slow & steady or blast straight through with a little know-how…basic rules of the gameworld were what bound you, not some artificial necessity imposed for the sake of plot."

…a world is not for you. A world needs a substance, independence, sense that it doesn’t just disappear when you turn around."

[Update [17 June 2016]:

Revisited thanks to:
"(And Thompson's essay, excerpted in the previous: http://tevisthompson.com/saving-zelda/ )"
https://twitter.com/tealtan/status/754162412484452352

See also:
"Thinking about this but for learning: http://makegames.tumblr.com/post/147367627844/this-is-an-excerpt-from-the-spelunky-book-which "
https://twitter.com/tealtan/status/754162176345210880

"And the ideas of "intentional obtuseness" in Pokemon Go (and Snapchat): https://medium.com/@helvetica/full-thoughts-on-pokemon-go-from-my-interview-on-the-verge-178b97b1112b "
https://twitter.com/tealtan/status/754162625802534912
2012  space  play  openendedness  open-ended  autonomy  exploration  memory  spatialmemory  worlds  worldbuilding  nintendo  videogames  gaming  zelda  games  gamecriticism  gamedesign  via:tealtan  tevisthompson  howwelearn  hyrule  legendofzelda  independence  zpd  howweplay  openended 
february 2012 by robertogreco

Copy this bookmark:





to read