Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Recess in the classroom

For Moulthrop: experience = play;  reflection = writing/thinking.  The problem we face, he says, is that we disassociate them.  Play is for playing, writing is for learning.  Thoughts and thinking are language and writing, so why bother with modes that don't engage half of that?  His call is to move away from that premise, to open up the classroom onto and into the playground. 

This is accomplished, the fusion of word and game, Moulthrop says, mainly through programming, the text of digital play, the language that empowers us to both experience and reflect.

Cynthia raised the point that programming may be frightening--and it is horrifying to me, in part because the last line of code I wrote was in third grade to make my name scroll and flash on an Apple II, in part because programming appears to be a close cousin to calculus, and  in large part because I know that I will lose weeks, maybe even months, (I will not stop once I start) trying to figure out how to make my name scroll and  flash again.

There is hope.  Software tools exist which put more emphasis on designing than coding.  Clicks, draggings, and icons replace numbers, letters, and symbols--good for us, but bad I suppose for Moulthrop.  It kicks his glyphs out of that new space he was hoping to create for them in the realm of experience/play.  But I'll leave his argument to him to instead wonder, here, who will give us those interfaces?  Who will give educators and students the friendly tools we need to re-associate play and reflection in the classroom?

Riffing on existing software only will get us so far.  Do we go to the software giants to have them create our new interfaces?  Do they then become the new textbook publishers?  Or do we go to the textbook publishers and call for them to hire teams of new designers and programmers to produce these new transgressive tools for us?  And how much will they cost?

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