Public pedagogy through video games

James Paul Gee and Elizabeth Hayes have just released a fascinating article titled “Public pedagogy through video games” on the games-based learning site, which I’ve just finished reading this morning – and I’m sure I’ll be visiting the site to read again!

Gee and Haynes argue that todays television shows, movies, websites and online games, are much more sophisticated in terms of the demands they make of viewers/users than they ever have been before, and that through engaging with them, there is quite profound and real learning taking place – what we often call ‘informal learning’. They further argue that this sort of learning is often wrongly compared with ‘formal learning’ in classrooms, because there is not teaching involved. Gee and Haynes make the point that teaching is a part of the gaming world – albeit implicit in the design, resources and affinity spaces involved.

They ask “If we view informal learning and teaching in popular culture as a public pedagogy, we are invited to ask “What is being taught?” – and discuss the need for critical literacy…

“So for us, a real issue arises as to how to take up the issue about “being critical” (in several different senses of the word) in popular culture today—seen as a form of public pedagogy—without simply celebrating young people as “savvy” when they agree with our politics.”

It’s an excellent read, and includes some very useful examples to illustrate their points. A great read for the many teachers in NZ about to head back to schools and classrooms around the country! Thanks to the authors for making it so freely available.

5 thoughts on “Public pedagogy through video games

  1. I love that researchers are finally substantiating some of the things that most young people have known intuitively for years. The learning that takes place through play (at all levels) is a particular hobby-horse of mine. This article actually seemed to have a strong focus on the activities that take place around a game, the online forums and such (the affinity spaces) where participants gather and teach each other. That is an aspect that is too often ignored.

  2. I agree, Breanna – my wife works in early childhood education where they have a very well developed understanding of the importance of learning through play (ie that’s it’s not just a frivilous activity. Sadly, the further up the ladder we go the distinction between “play” and “proper learning” becomes exaggerated, and, as Gee and Haynes point out, it’s not really a valid distinction anyway.

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