The education potential of the game Minecraft is immediately apparent when you first start dividing wood and constructing a crafting table in the game. MinecraftEDU.com has a mission to help educators bring the game into the classroom and to engage learners in what the game has to offer:
The game is being used to teach more than just computer skills. It easily lends itself to science, technology, engineering and math explorations (STEM). But beyond that, language teachers are strengthening communication skills, civics teachers are exploring how societies function, and history teachers are having their students recreate ancient civilizations. It is not an exaggeration to say that the only limit is imagination!
They are creating a custom mod with features specifically designed for the education community and are making the game available at a discounted rate for schools.
19th century artist and instructor John Ruskin founded a drawing school at Oxford University in 1871. Oxford has now posted his collection of images, notes and instruction into an immense online catalogue. While much of the physical work has been dispersed around the world, the web allows the collection to be seen in its entirety, with information cross-referenced for ease of browsing. Oxford has also added contemporary interpretation of Ruskin’s teachings, as well as short drawing instruction videos.
From the site:
He intended it not for the training of artists, but of ordinary men and women, who, by following his course, ‘might see greater beauties than they had hitherto seen in nature and in art, and thereby gain more pleasure in life’. His method required the student to master the rudiments of technique – outline, shading, colour – through a carefully directed course of lessons in copying both works of art and natural specimens.
Link: The Elements of Drawing
Last year I was invited to be a teaching artist at HOLA, a charter school in Hoboken. I developed a comic-book curriculum for children from K-2. Through 5 weekly classes we reviewed the concepts of character, setting and storyline and each student finished the class with a complete storybook. I’ve been invited again this year and I’m planning to teach game design. Here is my proposal.
A recent study by the American Academy of Pediatrics found that 4 year olds who watched fast-paced cartoons, such as Sponge Bob Square Pants, had significantly less executive function than their control groups. They used 2 control groups; one that watched slower paced shows, and one that were given pencils and crayons to draw with.
From the study:
In addition to the pacing, we speculate that the onslaught of fantastical events that was also present in the fast-paced show might have further exacerbated EF (Executive Function). Whereas familiar events are en-coded by established neural circuitry, there is no such circuitry for new and unexpected events, which fantastical events often are. Encoding new events is likely to be particularly depleting of cognitive resources, as orienting responses are repeatedly engaged in response to novel events.41 Because cognitive depletion taxes self- regulation, we hypothesize that the fantastical aspect of the fast-paced show could also be partly responsible for the EF effects seen here. This hypothesis will be tested in further research.
A post on the “Power in Art” blog outlines the difference between visual and auditory learners. There’s a great passage positing the idea that as a culture we cultivate visual learners, while our education system is based on an auditory model.
From infanthood, today’s students have been exposed to an incessant supply of visual stimuli via television, books, video-games, and computers. Some studies are even showing that as a result of the continual stimuli, the visual pathways in children’s brains are actually changing. Though this influx of visual stimuli is certainly a controversial topic – one side of the debate arguing that children should be taught to learn the “way they used to,” the other that children are now better multi-taskers and problem solvers; the fact is, that regardless of which side of the fence we’re on, today’s culture is cultivating the visual learner. Stimulating imagery is now the language we communicate with on a global level. We gather most of our information from a visual source. Whether it is a highway billboard, a monitor or an iphone, visual communication is the medium that children are using to gather (and retain) their information as well. If our education system won’t learn to speak their language, we risk the chance of not only leaving students disinterested in the classroom – we run the risk of leaving them behind completely.
Power in Art Blog: Drawing in the Visual Learner