scenes and schemes

Sunday, December 19th, 2004

I’m wondering if Christopher Coonce-Ewing would consider a few scenarios based on some specific issue in history, such as the problem of telling the story of the constitutional convention (how was Broom involved?) or the story of Wilson’s Espionage Act and its implications in a textual environment. T.I.M.E. deals with the sense of place and anomoly–it gets close to the idea of consequential instances in a historical sense: a what if scenario, in other words. But what other constructions are possible?

I think that there are certain misconceptions about teaching that perpetuate negative and stagnant attitudes about education. I’m no expert at this but it seems to me that the classroom is an environment manipulated by the teacher to encourage learning: the readings are a part of the space. People learn, regardless, and what they learn depends on curiosity, fear, interest, and context. Let’s say that teachers “shouldn’t” teach at all (no Zen intended). On the contrary, the teacher creates a world where learning is made possible, whether it’s Milton or C++, and then drives into the business with all due enthusiasm, leaving the outcome in the hands of the student. Alternatively, the teacher opens a door, asks a youngster to enter, then locks the door after closing it, leaving the outcome, again, up to the learner (this is a metaphor). Example, I just read an article about flu virus in SciAM and it wasn’t the subject that got me, it was the enthusiastic voice of the writer that kept me interested. I left the article with this and this alone: Wow, the flu virus is a really interesting, scary nut.

“There’s another door in there,” the teacher calls through the barrier. “I’ll meet you on the other side.”

Neha could also consider this since she’s now a student of IF like the rest of us, or Susan Gibb, who, if her computer is still working, will be scared into learning with SHII. The question for Neha would be not to teach poetry with IF, but how would she design an IF environment that made learning to disentangle complex texts possible for a student. Can “a” reading of a poem be construed as a digital environment in and of itself?

Game designers are teachers, in my mind; so are interior designers.

It’s an interesting problem for a teacher (someone who likes to talk about cool things, typically to a captured audience) or team of teachers to consider game elements seriously and how those elements are actually already at work in learning environments now.

3 responses to “scenes and schemes”

  1. Neha says:

    Believe it or not, I used one of my poems to create my IF story. There’s not much of a story line to it right now, because I haven’t had a chance to finish it. I’ll tell you all about it when I see you.

  2. Maureen says:

    If a teacher opens a door, asks a student to enter, then closes it… Does that make the teacher obsolete? Is learning suddenly student driven? Hmm, but then hasn’t learning always been student driven? The teacher may give instruction, but it is up to the student to take the reigns…

  3. Christopher says:

    A teacher can force learning (performing simple memorization drills in class) but I think it’s the advanced learning that requires input from both. Sure you can skip all of your classes and just read the assigned texts and you’ve bipassed the teacher, but the teacher through the choice of texts has still influenced your learning. Additionally instead of learning from that teacher, the author(s) has become your teacher instead.

    I like the idea of writing an IF piece about the Constitutional convention. I just need to put together a plotline/story in my head. I could see it being a T.I.M.E. work, I just need to put far more historical information on the details of it into my grey matter first.

    In my experiences the best teachers were those who opened the door and didn’t just tell the student to walk through it but instead made the student so interested that the student enters it with excitement.