A man from the government doesn’t hate videogames. It’s a news story. It’s more of a news story when that man is sinister Pob-lookalike Michael Gove, admittedly. He’s taken time off from shitting all over British education to say that he thinks videogames are a useful means of teaching. Which is a bit like Jack Thompson saying he likes to relax of an evening with a game of GTA IV.
As reported by CVG, he was at the Royal Society last week, speaking about maths and science teaching, when the crazed outburst occurred.
“Computer games developed by Marcus du Sautoy are enabling children to engage with complex mathematical problems that would hitherto have been thought too advanced. When children need to solve equations in order to get more ammo to shoot the aliens, it is amazing how quickly they can learn. I am sure that this field of educational games has huge potential for maths and science teaching and I know that Marcus himself has been thinking about how he might be able to create games to introduce advanced concepts, such as non-Euclidean geometry, to children at a much earlier stage than normal in schools.”
Ignoring that computer games have been teaching maths, science and all manner of other subjects pretty much since they came into existence, it’s certainly interesting to see this potential being noticed. Gove now intends to begin a pilot programme for using games as teaching materials, via the Li Ka Shing Foundation and the Stanford Research Institute. Rather than, say, looking at how it’s been used as a medium inside and outside of schools for decades.
“The Department for Education is working with the Li Ka Shing Foundation and the highly respected Stanford Research Institute on a pilot programme to use computer programmes to teach maths. We have not developed the programme – we are just helping them run a pilot. Stanford say it is one of the most successful educational projects they have seen.”
du Sautoy is the Simonyi Professor for the Public Understanding of Science and a Professor of Mathematics at the University of Oxford, as both CVG and I copied and pasted from Wikipedia. His website scares and confuses me. But it is his work that seems to have finally woken Gove up to face the possibility of the existence of gaming. You can read the script for Gove’s speech here, in case you can’t believe your eyes. He hasn’t previously exactly been encouraging.