John Seeley Brown and Constance Steinkuehler Squire at the Aspen Ideas Festival on Why Games Matter for Learning
7.6.12 | I look forward to the Aspen Ideas Festival every year, not because I am lucky enough to get to fly to Colorado to hear the big thinkers ponder the meaning of society’s most complex problems. I wish. But because every year at this time the festival unleashes these incredible video talks you can watch from your living room couch.
The Aspen Institute hosts the annual week-long symposium along with the Atlantic Monthly. It features leading minds from around the world – writers, artists, business leaders, teachers, politicians—who teach, give talks, answer questions and host discussions about a range of global issues.
This year I watched Anne-Marie Slaughter talk with Katie Couric about her much read Atlantic piece on “Why Women Still Can’t Have it All,” and urbanist Richard Florida and Chicago’s emeritus mayor Richard M. Daley discuss how to manage the megacity of the future. But for our purposes I’ll recommend Constance Steinkuehler Squire in conversation with John Seeley Brown. Some of you may have heard JSB’s keynote at this year’s Digital Media and Learning Conference in San Francisco and know what an insightful thinker he is. (Read our Q&A with JSB here).
We’ve written about Steinkuehler’s research on games in the past. She’s examined, for example, how teenage boys who are struggling readers actually have great comprehension skills when they are plugging through complex video game instructions. Last year she was summoned to Washington to join the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy as a senior policy analyst.
And in her talk above she discusses the work she is doing there to help federal agencies apply the art of gaming to their work in government.
Games, she says, are the one medium that challenge us to think, problem solve, and collaborate. They assign social status for being smart, struggling through a problem, and having differentiated knowledge. This kind of environment, she says, is valuable.
“What happens is you create these communities around the games that do an incredible amount of intellectual work,” she says. “And when they are done with the work, they will leave the game and go on to another game that’s more challenging. Can you imagine if we had that kind of environment in classrooms?”
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