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Justice O'Connor Hails Games As 'Fabulous' Teaching Tools
Justice O'Connor Hails Games As 'Fabulous' Teaching Tools
May 27, 2010 | By Chris Remo

May 27, 2010 | By Chris Remo
More: Console/PC

Retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor recently espoused the benefits of learning through video games, expressing her hope that game could help children advance in disciplines like civics and history.

"They're fabulous," O'Connor said of education games in an ABC interview. "We've had tests done, and the students go up 20 percent in their knowledge by playing those games. It's just incredible."

Finding alternative education methods for areas outside math, science, and reading is crucial, she said. Because of the financial incentive placed on those core subjects, as part of the No Child Left Behind Act, "many of the schools just stopped teaching" children enough about government, civics, and history.

O'Connor cited Annenberg polls pegging American middle-schoolers as spending about 40 hours per week in front of television or computers.

"If we can capture just part of that time, a little bit of it, to get 'em in front of a computer screen to play these games, they're going to learn," she explained.

O'Connor is throwing the weight of her reputation and experience behind an initiative to take educational games into schools, speaking on their behalf and offering them freely to teachers. Her ABC interview came after she spoke at the New York-based Games for Change Festival, which aims to address real-world issues with video games.

"They don't even know they're learning," she added of the education-driven games. "They're fun. The games are great."

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Daniel Martinez
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My best teachers have been the most-entertaining ones. I find it saddening when teachers say "I'm not here to entertain you" because they automatically set themselves up to be labeled as boring. Being "entertaining" in no way means you have to be foolish. Entertaining is being engaging, active and feeding off the energy and potential young students have. That's how the Jaime Escalante did it. His wit, charisma, energy, and positive reinforcement helped generations of students learn Calculus, a discipline I never even studied in college.

Video games, by the same token, do the same thing. Except video games are not labeled as a "class" or "teacher" which comes with all the negative aspects associated with those things; so video games have the power to teach at a more subtle degree as former Justice O'Connor stated at the end of the article.

Traci Lawson
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There are a lot of great educational games out there, but to quote Marc Prensky, they're like champagne in the ocean. There are so many bad educational games out there, and no great way for the really good ones to become well known, so they're hard to find.

Many educational games are built to run online in web browsers. It's a shame the new Game Developers Choice Online Awards don't have a category for Best Educational Game. That would have been a great way for innovative educational games to get press.

Sebastion Williams
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It is important to understand - all games are educational. It is just a matter of what is learned. Minimally, you learn how to play and hopefully win. Whether or not wht you learn in any game is transferable to real life consists of factors within the product and the player.

Ernest Adams
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Itís misleading to suppose thereís any basic difference between education and entertainment. This distinction merely relieves people of the responsibility of looking into the matter. Itís like setting up a distinction between didactic and lyric poetry on the grounds that one teaches, the other pleases. However, itís always been true that whatever pleases teaches more effectively.

ó Marshall McLuhan, Media Theorist

Andy Ross
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Phew... I thought for a second there that her name actually was "Justice O'Connor" (judging by the title of this piece).