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:
- Against Khan Academy in Wired magazine
- Against BYOD in Learning and Leading with Technology
- Against interactive whiteboards in Technology and Learning magazine
- Against tablet computers in education (in-press) for Scholastic Administrator magazine
- Against video games in education in Parade magazine
- Against Bill Gates’ influence on school policy in GOOD and The Huffington Post
- Against Daniel Pink’s dubious learning theories on my personal blog
- Against Education Nation in The Huffington Post
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.
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 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…
What would you like to add to your game? How might you improve it?
Here are some suggestions:
- Different prizes
- Power pellets
- Additional levels
- Temporary invisibility (makes it hard for ghosts to eat you)
- Better graphics
- More sound effects
- MicroWorlds EX Exploring Projects Book (PDF)
- MicroWorlds web site
- MicroWorlds sample project library
- Gary Stager’s Logo resource page
I am quoted in this weekend’s edition of Parade Magazine. After a long conversation with a reporter, fact-checking and a several month delay, I have two sentences in the article, Can Video Games Teach Kids?
Parade has a circulation of 33,000,000 and is read by “72.775 million Americans every week.” By my calculations, that’s approximately 10 million times more readers than the number of people who read my blog. It’s 9.9999 million times the number of edubloggers in the universe.
There are other benefits of being quoted in Parade Magazine:
- I’m finally in a publication read by my mother!
- I found a yummy recipe for Cinnamon Pinwheels right before the article on How to Manage Your Diabetes (not eating the cinnamon pinwheels?)
- Who knew that Ryan Seacrest wakes up at 4 AM?
Parade contacted me based on a 2007 article I published in District Administration Magazine, Edugaming – A Bad Idea for All Ages.
One day I’ll write at greater length about the ridiculous assumptions underlying the creation of a school built on a video game curriculum.