Thursday, February 26, 2015


James Paul Gee
Tashia Morgridge
Professor of Reading
University of Wisconsin-Madison Madison, WI 53706

I played my first video game four years ago when my six-year-old son Sam was playing Pajama Sam: No Need to Hide When It’s Dark Outside.
In Pajama Sam, child “super-hero” Sam—mine and the virtual one—goes off to the “Land of Darkness” to find and capture “Darkness” in a lunch pail and thereby alleviate fear of the dark.
Darkness turns out to be a big lonely softie who just needs a playmate.

I wanted to play the game so I could support Sam’s problem solving.
Though Pajama Sam is not an “educational game”, it is replete with the types of problems psychologists study when they study thinking and learning.
When I saw how well the game held Sam’s attention, I wondered what sort of beast a more mature video game might be.
I went to a store and arbitrarily picked a game, The New Adventures of the Time Machine—perhaps, it was not so arbitrary, as I was undoubtedly reassured by the association with H. G. Wells and literature.
As I confronted the game I was amazed.

Read more here

Teaching Your Kid to Read? Let Her Play Minecraft

The first time linguist and game studies theorist James Gee played a video game, he failed many times over. But instead of giving up, he merrily persevered, choosing to exercise “learning muscles” he hadn’t worked out since his grad school days. “Lots of young people pay lots of money to engage in an activity that is hard, long, and complex,” he realized. Games were evidence that humans love learning. But why do they seem to love it more during Minecraft than in the classroom?
Read more here

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

The Art of Self Directed Learning

Hi everyone! Blake Boles just launched a Kickstarter campaign for his new book, "The Art of Self-Directed Learning " Check it out
Blake is a great author and a charismatic speaker. His first book 'College without Highschool' is a great read.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

How Europe Is Betraying Its Children

by Michael G. Jacobides | 9:00 AM November 28, 2013

A few days ago, I participated in a debate organized by the Economist on whether the new generation has the skills it needs to succeed in tomorrow’s world. I thought I had the easy job of arguing that, especially in countries like Greece (where the event took place), there is a serious skill gap, with the educational and vocational training being dangerously out of date and misdirected.

The argument in favour of the motion, I reckoned, was straightforward. First, schools in many of the Old World countries, and certainly in the European South, still prioritize memorizing over critical thought; we obsess with teaching technical skills as opposed to fostering the ability to adapt, add and capture value in a shifting economic landscape. Universities, in many a European country, are neglecting the realities that graduates will face, producing degrees better suited to a generation ago.

Of course, all this is perfectly understandable. These school systems were built at a time when information was scarce and valuable, and obtaining vast amounts of it through memorization, was a useful skill. And Universities had evolved to serve the needs of a different polity and economy: skilled professionals destined to work in highly structured societies.

A degree was often the license to practice a privileged profession such as law or medicine, and humanities training was the tool to propel young graduates into the white collar workforce. Vocational training was, by and large, linked to the system of professions, themselves a descendant of the guild system. In other words, education was based on offering the brightest (or most fortunate) in society access to the land of privilege, bestowed by excluding most while anointing some.

This world no longer exists. Professions have lost their monopoly, guilds’ privileges are on their way out, sectors have unbundled, competition has become global, and value creation is the name of the game. With China making a massive push in its academic system, and as the Asian scores in aptitude tests reveal the shifting geography of the talent pool, the Old World cannot afford its old habits.

On the corporate level, as careers shorten and the nature of work evolves, the skills to succeed become ever more complex. Sadly, today’s youth is still kept behind by an antiquated educational system, and a reluctance of corporates to invest in developing their workforce. And on top of that, in Europe, most school and Universities’ lack of financial independence has hit hard in a time of fiscal austerity, depriving them of the resources and agility to react and adapt.

They also face tough governance problems, shown most acutely in places like Greece, where the Rector and the association of administrative employees can literally shut the biggest and oldest university down, as a protest on the mere prospect of having their own jobs redesigned. Dinosaurs die hard, and can wreak havoc on their way out.

It isn’t just the educational system that’s at fault. A recent BusinessRoundtable study of employers found that most complain that they can’t find the right people. Not because they can’t read, or lack computer or job-specific skills but because they lack critical thinking, critical problem solving and teamwork. Perhaps worse, they also lack professionalism, adaptability, and personal accountability for work. These are skills that the educational system isn’t geared to deliver but they precisely what the new generation must necessarily develop.

Given this context, I was mesmerized by the fact that 51% of the audience in the Economist debate voted for the view that the young generation does have the skills needed. Now, this could be the result of debating prowess of my opponent, Steve Bainbridge, who played up the need to believe in the younger generation, and of the value of hope, in an auditorium of a crisis-striken country.

But it just might be something deeper: a reflection of just how hard it is to recognize some uncomfortable truths, especially when we have no ready solution to offer. Yet, what could happen if we keep confusing wishful thinking with optimism? Most probably, a wasted generation and, for sure, further loss of competitiveness. And, on the personal level, the biggest drama for parents in plighted countries, who sacrifice all they have for the education of their children, is the realization that they may be making a bad investment. Unwavering faith in their offspring and their future may be detrimental for their ability to succeed.

Perhaps worst of all is the likelihood that this trend will make an uneven society even worse. Those who can attend the best universities, or go to the best business schools, will be able to cope effectively. But this will exacerbate societal imbalances, helping the 1% “in the know”, while leaving the majority behind. Our lack of courage in dealing with the skill gaps risks hurting the Old World and making it more uneven.

This isn’t an easy fight. It takes courage to accept the problem, and even more courage to address it, with entrenched interests as well as skill gaps in the educational system. But it’s an important fight, if we want to regain both prosperity and balance.

How Europe Is Betraying Its Children
Michael G. Jacobides holds the Sir Donald Gordon Chair for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at the London Business School.