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Say it isn’t so!

Okay . . . I know that other issues may seem more important. You know, the trillions being spent in Iraq, the economy here in the US, rising health care costs and steroids in baseball. But according to, what we really should be concerned with is Barack Obama’s view of video games.

“His speeches, however, often contain a reference to parents making their children ‘put away the video games.’ For Obama, video games seem to serve as a sort of metaphor for underachievement. The Illinois senator repeated the theme last night in a victory speech following his big win over Clinton in the Wisconsin primary.”

According to a transcript from the New York Times of his February 19th speech following his win in Wisconsin, Obama is quoted as saying:

“We’re going to have to parent better, and turn off the television set, and put the video games away, and instill a sense of excellence in our children, and that’s going to take some time.”

And according to GamePolitics, this wasn’t the first time. And yes, we know that he (and McCain and Clinton and the voters) probably have bigger fish to fry. But it’s indicative of an attitude that says if kids would only buckle down and just work harder, everything in education would be okay. That spending time “playing” and having “fun” would be better spent reviewing multiplication facts and memorizing the parts of speech.

Politicians and others (including many educators) like to compare US test scores with those of Japan and Korea. “Look how hard they work, look at their test scores. If only our kids would get off the Wii, we could have scores like that!”

wii-play.jpgQuick review?

Who invented the Wii? Do they play video games in Japan? Mmmmm . . .

I had the chance to spend a couple of hours chatting with nine middle school teachers yesterday as they developed possible lessons that integrated the use of simulations and video games. For some, it was the first time that they had thought about the possibility. For others, it was a chance away from kids, schedules and hall duty to really think about what learning looks like when “fun” is part of the process.

Some great ideas (aligned to state standards, of course!) using sims like Knowledge Matters Settling America and Stop Disasters. Maybe Obama and others need to actually learn a bit more about what school could and does look like.

Maybe they’d be more fun.

3 Comments Post a comment
  1. Geez #

    Geez, this is pathetic. GamePolitics took his quote WAY out of context and misrepresented it.

    He criticized BAD PARENTING, and just used videogames ***AND TVS*** as examples. He never said that video games turn you into a retard or anything like that, contrary to what GamePolitics claims.

    This, by the way, is written by an avid gamer who grew up with the NES and plays games on consoles and PC to this day.

    February 23, 2008
  2. glennw #

    You are exactly right when you say that Obama is using video games as an example of bad parenting. That’s the point.

    GamePolitics obviously has an agenda but I think their suggestion that Obama is using videogames as a non-example of “excellence” is a valid one. When he encourages us to be better parents by telling kids to “put the video games away and instill a sense of excellence” how is that not a metaphor for underachievement?

    Video games are perfect examples of learning tools. Teachers should be using them in their classroom instruction. When anyone, especially those that are asking to be national leaders, see videogames as bad for kids, I think that’s a problem.

    Thanks for your comment


    February 25, 2008

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