Can Games Change The Way Boys Learn In School?

Apparently schools are failing boys. For every 100 girls expelled from school, 335 boys are expelled. If you are a boy you are four times more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD. Something has to change and according to Ali Carr-Chellman video-games may be able to provide a solution.

You may have heard of TED Talks - Ideas Worth Spreading. TED stands for 'Technology', 'Entertainment' and 'Design', and attempts to bring experts from a multitude of different fields together, challenging them to give the 18 minute speech of their lives. Ali Carr-Chellman is a former third gade teacher frustrated with the lack of change in the school curriculum who now works as an instructional designer, teaching at Penn State University in the College of Education. Her latest research project is called 'Bringing Back the Boys', and focuses on how we can use video gaming to transform how boys learn in the classroom - she represents her research here brilliantly - this is a must watch for any gamer, particularly gamers with children.

You can check out more TED Talks here.

Thanks to Fem Grey for the heads up!


    Our educational system is quite different, but an interesting talk. I agree that boys love talking about games a lot and writing violent stories. Usually, when I have a class and a boy is producing a violent story, I challenge him to be original - to describe his story using better words - basically having the same standards as everyone else but allowing him to be expressive. This usually has a positive effect, and I haven't had any parents complain yet. I'll quite often run lessons on writing game reviews too :P
    Yay Australia and teachers who don't feel like they'll get fired all the time!

    Cause all boys and all girls learn alike, amirite?

    I watched this last night and she was spot on. Having worked for a time in a boys school and having a 14yr old son I can relate a lot.
    It is interesting how some of the zero tolerance stuff the US has - is mirrored here. My son took a bullet to school from a cadet shoot. Not a live bullet - just the used heavy metal tip. He probably wasn't using the full capacity of his brain when he thought it was a good idea to show his friends. The reaction from the school was extreme. Confiscation, threat of suspension, reported to the principal. I understand their thinking and the fears we have in society, but I also understand boys and I do think we need to find better ways of engaging with them.

    Nice that she doesn't try to essentialise "all boys" as being violent, attention-seeking maniacs. Also really interesting (true) comments about universities.

    I'm mystified that she likens telling kids to "sit down, be focused, listen to the teacher" etc as "being a girl" - I'm no expert on education or psychology but to generalise in this way seems pretty absurd. Is there a thing as "boy culture"? I don't think so.

      Boy culture maybe not, but boy nature certainly.

    I agree with her completely, there is a boy culture, yes it can be very wide ranging, but a general boy culture that is being pushed down and ignored by society. ADHD itself is usually misdiagnosed because the child is just a boy, the think and react differently to girls and this needs to be looked at, especially in schools, and yes our schools are affected by this as well.

    Wow! Sooo many assumptions, so little fact. Sooo many generalizations, so little direction in this presentation.

    We want our children to be able to think and reason. Learning to focus, listen, and sit quietly is not developmentally appropriate? Nonsense.

    We need boys to play more games. Nonsense.

    Need to change the curriculum. Absolutely.

    Need to change the curriculum to adapt more games because that's what boys like? Nonsense. This equates to: Boys like to eat pizza and shoot guns. We should incorporate that into the curriculum.

    People (boys and girls) learn when they value learning, when they see that it has meaning to them. They learn when they see that the lesson is not disposable and performed only because the teacher mandated it.

    The brain desires to understand its world. That seems true for about every sentient being. When we teach according to that principle and expand the boundaries of the child's world, the child can be a lifelong learner. This is not happening in today's schools. The speaker is correct about that. The logic she uses to bring in more gaming and sit in front of a computer monitor even more than the average six hours a day children already get at home is ludicrous. Spoken as a true university professor.

    Ms. Carr-Chellman brings up and provides food-for-thought about gender-segmentation both in and out of our school systems.

    Many teachers in my practice have expressed "the need" for all students to sit quietly, focus intently on what is being taught, and avoid interrupting; in order for the teacher to be able to effectively teach so many students in such a short time and assure that each has learned the required materials.

    This is frustrating for both teachers and students as we clearly now understand each child has unique learning skills that vary as differently as the color combinations of their hair, eyes, and skin.

    Some kids are visual learners, some are auditory learners, but the majority of little boys tend to lean by what we call the see it-hear it-touch it method! This probably accounts for the observation that boys can learn while playing games.

    She is correct that boys are four times more likely to be diagnosed as ADHD, but I would point out, boys are more likely to be labeled as impulsive, inattentive, and hyperactive even when they are not ADHD.

    We believe as many as 40% of all kids diagnosed as ADHD have been inadequately evaluated for their behavior and misdiagnosed as ADHD. Many of these kids will be discovered to be gifted children or just inquisitive, curious normal kids-both boys and girls.
    Frank Barnhill, MD

    Author "Mistaken for ADHD"

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