Rufus T. Firefly
President: Huxley College

I often explain to graduate students that I don’t play devil’s advocate or any other clever games. Just because I may say something unsaid by others, does not mean that I don’t come to that perspective after careful thought and introspection.

Being an educator is a sacred obligation. Those of us who know better, need to do better and stand between the defenseless children we serve and the madness around us. If a destructive idea needs to be challenged or a right defended, I’ll speak up.

My career allows me to spend time in lots of classrooms around the world and to work with thousands of educators each year. This gives me perspective. I am able to identify patterns, good and bad, often before colleagues become aware of the phenomena. I have been blessed with a some communication skills and avenues for expression. I’ve published hundreds of articles and spoken at even more conferences.

People seem interested in what I have to say and for that I am extremely grateful.

The problem is that I am increasingly called upon to argue against a popular trend. That tends to make me unpopular. In the field of education, where teachers are “nice,” criticism is barely tolerated. Dissent is seen as defect and despite all of my positive contributions to the field, I run the risk of being dismissed as “that negative guy.”

Recently, I have written or been quoted on the following topics:

I’ve also written against homework, NCLB, RTTT, Michelle Rhee, Eli Broad, Joel Klein, standardized testing, Education Nation, Common Core Curriculum Standards, Accelerated Reader, merit pay, Arne Duncan, union-busting, Cory Booker, Teach for America, Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard, mayoral control, the ISTE NETs, Hooked-on-Phonics, President Obama’s education policies, etc… You get the idea.

The “Jetbow” sandwich at NY’s Carnegie Deli

These are perilous times for educators. When once bad education policy was an amuse-bouche you could easily ignore, it has become a Carnegie Deli-sized shit sandwich. Educators are literally left to pick their own poison, when choice is permitted at all. If I take a stand against a fad or misguided education policy, my intent is to inform and inspire others to think differently or take action.

So why, pray tell am I boring my dear readers with my personal angst? An old friend and colleague just invited me to write a magazine article about the “Flipped Classroom.” Sure, I think the flipped classroom is a preposterous unsustainable trend, masquerading as education reform, in which kids are forced to work a second unpaid shift because adults refuse to edit a morbidly obese curriculum. But….

The question is, “Do I wish to gore yet another sacred cow?” Is speaking truth to power worth the collateral damage done to my career?

In the 1960s, the great Neil Postman urged educators to hone highly-tuned BS and crap detectors. Those detectors need to be set on overdrive today. I’m concerned that I’m the only one being burned.

What to do? What to do?

I don’t know what they have to say
It makes no difference anyway
Whatever it is, I’m against it!
No matter what it is
Or who commenced it
I’m against it!

Your proposition may be good
But let’s have one thing understood
Whatever it is, I’m against it!
And even when you’ve changed it
Or condensed it
I’m against it!

Whatever It Is, I'm Against It
by Harry Ruby & Bert Kalmar 
From the Marx Bros. film "Horse Feathers" (1932)

 

These video tutorials should help you get started learning with MicroWorlds EX or MicroWorlds EX Robotics! You may download them and watch them as often as you wish.

These screencasts (video clips) were created to walk you through basic techniques you will need to create an original “Snac Man Jr.” game (it’s like Pac Man without lawyers).

The MicroWorlds EX Project book has a tutorial in creating a similar game, but I find that it is unnecessarily complex, despite having written it myself.

I can now teach beginners to design their very own video game with very little instruction.

Continue practicing using the MicroWorlds EX tools and turtle animation techniques before moving on to the main event.

Snac Man Jr!

Now you will learn how to begin designing your very own Snac Man Jr. video game!

Stop the video as necessary and try to imitate the actions described.

The learning adventure continues…

Extension activities

What would you like to add to your game? How might you improve it?

Here are some suggestions:

  • Different prizes
  • Predators
  • Power pellets
  • Additional levels
  • Acceleration
  • Temporary invisibility (makes it hard for ghosts to eat you)
  • Better graphics
  • More sound effects

Additional Resources

NYU psychologist Gary Marcus wrote an interesting article recently in the Huffington Post. He explores the phenomena that might account for the enormous popularity of the video games, Rock Band and Guitar Hero. Marcus writes:

Few games demand less of the player; I suspect monkeys could be trained to play, and know for a fact that robots can cruise through Guitar Hero on Expert.

Aside from simplicity and affection for the songs, Professor Marcus’ hypothesis is that the success of these games is based rooted in “a lust for power.”

The article is well worth the attention of educators.

Read more at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/gary-marcus/what-makes-people-want-to_b_286386.html