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Print 72 comment(s) - last by tastyratz.. on Jun 14 at 12:34 PM


Think of the children: Marlene Perrotte are taking up the good fight against video games where Jack Thompson left off. She and other parents in Albuquerque are fighting an educational math videogame which they claim is making children victims of "addiction" and exposing them to "violent" content like jetpacks.  (Source: KOAT-TV)
"What they recall is not the prime number ... but rather getting through to the enemy" -- concerned parent

Video games have their perpetual enemies -- poor adaptation, perverts, and slipping release deadlines.  However, perhaps the most insidious foe of video games is the perennial cry to ban games because they are too "violent", too "addictive", or feature too many "adult themes."

Albuquerque, New Mexico fell victim to this familiar foe when it tried to educate children using a mathematics-themed video game.  The local schools received a Department of Defense grant to deploy Tabula Digital's DimensionM to local schools, to help bump up children's math test scores.

Tabula Digital describes the game as having "all the action and adventure of commercial-quality video games while practicing and reinforcing the skills they need to succeed in math."  One middle school teacher called it "a 21st century flash card... They can use jetpacks and at the same time they have to know what the associative property is."

Not all local parents are as impressed, though.  Some are leading a crusade to see the game banned.  KOAT-TV, a local TV station, has been covering the bizarre protests.  One parent, Marlene Perrotte, comments, "We are feeding the addiction of these children to video games.  They were all excited, and they were excited because of the violence -'I'm getting ahead, I'm getting ahead, I'm getting ahead.'"

In a furor that would make even Jack Thompson proud, she raves, "What they recall is not the prime number ... but rather getting through to the enemy!"

Thus far, Albuquerque schools have no plans to drop the educational title amid the apparent outrage of a handful of parents.  DimensionM will continue to keep kids addicted -- to learning mathematics.  And that might just be a pretty great thing, considering math competency worldwide has been slipping.



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Meh
By icanhascpu on 6/8/2010 12:28:27 PM , Rating: 4
The game did not look violent at all, but that still seems a pretty pisspoor way to educate. How about teachers teach?




RE: Meh
By SublimeSimplicity on 6/8/2010 12:39:57 PM , Rating: 4
quote:
How about teachers teach?

I think that would be optimistic to the point of foolishness.


RE: Meh
By Talcite on 6/8/2010 3:30:32 PM , Rating: 5
quote:
How about teachers teach?


Why is there an inherent assumption that using video games is not a valid form of teaching?

I think it's great that these teachers are using alternative methods to teaching the subject material. It can show that they're putting effort into the process, which is incredibly motivating for the students.


RE: Meh
By chagrinnin on 6/8/2010 5:47:36 PM , Rating: 3
I remember when the motivators were made in wood shop. :P


RE: Meh
By NA1NSXR on 6/8/10, Rating: -1
RE: Meh
By TSS on 6/9/2010 9:34:37 AM , Rating: 2
That assumption is hidden in the assumption that, if these kids wheren't playing that game, they would actually study.

If you want to teach them problem solving, give the kids acces to WoW and make em raid once a week. Or organise a shooter tournament of your choosing where they compete against eachother. Then write an essay on tactics once a month.

But no god forbid they get excited about anything. From the dawn of man kids have always come home and sit quietly on the couch or study all day long, and that's how it'll damn well be in the future!


RE: Meh
By Donkeyshins on 6/9/2010 11:22:53 AM , Rating: 4
Perhaps the better question is, "Why don't these parents get off their collective asses and parent?" Teaching kids is not just the job of schoolteachers - it's also the responsibility of parents.


RE: Meh
By rburnham on 6/10/2010 1:27:04 PM , Rating: 2
Education was highly valued in my family growing up, and that was with both parents living in different places. We had to sit down, open the books and just do the work. No gimmicks. When it was all done, then we could play.


RE: Meh
By Wolfpup on 6/9/2010 12:41:55 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah, that game looked like it's probably a solid teaching tool. I mean hard to say without seeing more, but I played stuff like that in the '80s. Nothing wrong with that.

And what the HELL is wrong with that crazy woman? There's not even any violence at all in that, that they showed. Flying around and doing math problems is...bad? For some reason?


RE: Meh
By inperfectdarkness on 6/10/2010 6:32:02 AM , Rating: 2
100% agree.

i played word munchers & where in the USA is carmen sandiego when i was in school.

why are people suddenly pitching a fit and asking to go back to the dark ages?


RE: Meh
By JasonMick (blog) on 6/8/2010 1:17:39 PM , Rating: 5
quote:
The game did not look violent at all, but that still seems a pretty pisspoor way to educate. How about teachers teach?


I would have to respectfully disagree. As a kid I grew up playing Number Munchers on the Apple IIe and I have to say that it helped me to me memorize my times tables, division results, prime nuumbers, etc. MORE IMPORTANT than just being able to remember them -- I would likely have accomplished that with or without the game -- it also helped me to remember them FAST.

Personally, this greatly helped me in my educational career. I was the first student at my high school (which was in an affluent area, mind you) to pass the Calculus BC Advanced Placement exam. I have since received perfect scores on the SAT and GRE in math.

At college, when I was studying to receive my undergraduate engineering degree I tutored math for 4 years and taught a supplemental instruction course on Calculus. Time and time again I saw that the key weaknesses of students was basic math -- algebra, and even basic skills like multiplication. They not only sometimes failed to obtain the correct results on basic operations, but they also could not perform them fast enough.

These students would have greatly benefited from educational video games designed at memorizing and repetition of basic math.


RE: Meh
By icanhascpu on 6/8/2010 1:34:25 PM , Rating: 3
Number Munchers > This crap.


RE: Meh
By JasonMick (blog) on 6/8/2010 1:44:34 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Number Munchers > This crap.


Personally I would be inclined to agree with you there, but I would argue the basic premise of teaching math or other subjects with video games should not be discounted. Whether on a computer or off, its important to remember that teachers have found that games (physical or digital) are one of the best ways to reinforce topics.

And as much as I loved Number Munchers, Odell Lake, Oregon Trail, etc., I think that it's easy to let nostalgia make you discount current products. I'm sure some kids will look back on DimensionM someday and be like

"DimensionM > This crap [whatever educational video games are made in 20 years...]"


RE: Meh
By Chernobyl68 on 6/8/2010 1:55:28 PM , Rating: 2
Oregon Trail FTW


RE: Meh
By morphologia on 6/8/2010 5:00:35 PM , Rating: 2
Right on!!!!!!

Forget math, kids need to learn how to kill buffalo and grizzly bears to feed their family, and the best way to ford a river.

:P


RE: Meh
By IcePickFreak on 6/8/2010 5:25:10 PM , Rating: 2
And also makes you want to find the cure for diseases, like typhoid and cholera.


RE: Meh
By Cullinaire on 6/8/2010 7:46:47 PM , Rating: 2
It is the perfect tool to tell kids that the best way to make money/survive is to have money. (Choose the banker!)


RE: Meh
By Motoman on 6/8/2010 1:59:31 PM , Rating: 5
quote:
These students would have greatly benefited from educational video games designed at memorizing and repetition of basic math.


Have to disagree wholeheartedly.

The primary failure of our education system, across the board, is the focus on forcing rote memorization of *everything*. Stuff you have committed to memory != intelligence.

What we should be teaching in schools are critical thinking skills - reasoning, logic, problem-solving. That is what makes effective people.

The problem is that it takes a lot of effort to teach that way, whereas it takes no effort to teach (and then test for) rote memorization.

Couple that with the laughable salary that a teacher makes, and massive class sizes and general underfunding due to budget cuts, and it's clear that we probably aren't ever going to provide proper education.


RE: Meh
By Motoman on 6/8/10, Rating: -1
RE: Meh
By Solandri on 6/8/2010 2:42:22 PM , Rating: 4
quote:
Have to disagree wholeheartedly.

The primary failure of our education system, across the board, is the focus on forcing rote memorization of *everything*. Stuff you have committed to memory != intelligence.

For most educational topics I'd agree with you. However, basic math is nothing more than rote memorization. I mean you can teach kids how to do multiplication by adding repeatedly and it'll work. But it's just sooo much more efficient just to have the entire multiplication table memorized.

quote:
Couple that with the laughable salary that a teacher makes, and massive class sizes and general underfunding due to budget cuts, and it's clear that we probably aren't ever going to provide proper education.

Public education in the U.S. spends a bit over $9,000 per student per year. For a "massive" class of 30 kids, that's over a quarter million dollars a year. It's near the top in the world. Education is not underfunded. The money is just poorly used.

http://nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/display.asp?id=66
http://www.nationmaster.com/graph/edu_spe_per_pri_...
http://www.nationmaster.com/graph/edu_spe_per_sec_...
(Note: the Nationmaster figures are from 1998)


RE: Meh
By moriz on 6/8/2010 3:47:23 PM , Rating: 3
i agree that rote memorization of simple math is important. i emigrated from china in my 3rd grade, and i remember making my canadian math teacher's jaw drop when i started doing math problems in my head faster than kids punching them out on calculators. back in china, we were routinely required to do 50 math questions in 3 minutes, no calculators allowed; not even scrap paper. we weren't even allowed to write on the tests' margins. this is apparently something unheard of here in north america.

another thing: class sizes do not necessarily coorelate to education quality. class sizes in china are typically over 50 kids, yet china has a higher quality of education than the US. the teachers get paid a whole lot less, even adjusting for cost of living. what's different is that teachers in china are paid according to their performance: the better the students do on tests, the more the teacher is paid. as far as i know, this isn't the case here in north america. maybe it's time to adopt such a system.


RE: Meh
By kattanna on 6/9/2010 12:39:52 PM , Rating: 2
one of the big differences between north america and china is that in china education is seen as a way to better yourself.

here, it is seen as a burden that gets in the way of having fun and socializing.


RE: Meh
By Keeir on 6/9/2010 6:20:33 PM , Rating: 2
Well, I think there are numerous difference

#1. Parental Involvement is significantly higher
#2. Academics is placed higher than Athletics/Social Activities
#3. Teachers typically are given much greater authority
#4. Selection Pressures begin much sooner
#5. Shame is used extensively (Scores are often posted publically)

quote:
china has a higher quality of education than the US

Whoa there. The Chinese education system turns out a large number of students capable of reguritating facts and performing calculations. These have thier place... but there are alot of other measurements of "quality" of education.

quote:
maybe it's time to adopt such a system.

There are some good aspects of China's system. There are some bad aspects however:
Public Posting of Scores (Shame)
Acceptence of Abusive Teachers
Stunting of late development
Stunting of development in other aspects of Life (Art, Music, Community Service, Athletics, etc)


RE: Meh
By icanhascpu on 6/10/2010 9:03:52 AM , Rating: 2
I remember in 3rd grade having to do 50-100 math questions in some few min as well. But I have the feeling you were doing multiplication and possible square roots and such so Im not boasting.

That was fun though.

:P


RE: Meh
By tastyratz on 6/8/2010 3:47:38 PM , Rating: 1
Just because others set the bar low does not make ours sufficient or good enough. We really DON'T in general put as much towards education as we should- even if the rest fail to realize that more so than us.
I do however agree with you that funds are mismanaged but that's a generalized topic...

to OP's above myself:

While much of the educational system involves memorization of stupid facts there are certain things that really do need to be memorized in rudimentary entry subjects. Basic math functionality is one of them.

Video games enable us to teach in ways we never could and I HIGHLY embrace them educationally. We all know you learn more when you want to and your interested, what better way than to provide a fun method to experience learning at an accelerated rate?

Original op:
Sure I would love to romanticize the idea of all teachers employed being true enthusiastic educators, but I live in the real world and realize the majority of them are not. To educate the kids with the other 90% of teachers I am all for whatever it takes to get them interested in learning.

It is sad that reality puts us here but I also in part blame teacher unions. To me they are like the UAW. Nothing irritates me more than seeing a REAL educator let go because of tenor. An incentive program would make a lot more sense.

Personally I would like to see teachers base salary dropped and a new program put in place where they get paid x amount of bonus based on performance levels of their class in a standardized test in comparison to that districts average mean. Those who have students that excel in the subject are rewarded for ACTUALLY TEACHING.
But alas, that's just me romanticizing an idea that would never come to fruition.


RE: Meh
By Varkyl on 6/9/2010 12:20:27 PM , Rating: 2
The problem with pay based on a standardized test is the teachers will then just teach to the standardized tests. So the kids will be worse off than they are now.

Two of the biggest issues with schools right now are:
1. The lack of discipline in the student body. And this comes from the lack of discipline in the home.
2. When the teachers have to get the parents permission in order to fail a student we are bound for failure in the school system. Because the majority of parents won't let their "little Johny" fail. After all, it is unpossible that their child could fail.


RE: Meh
By tastyratz on 6/14/2010 12:34:44 PM , Rating: 2
well yes and no,
A standardized test based on curriculum adherence and a randomized question pool that changes year to year on that could avoid it. One could alone argue teaching to the test if they don't know the exact questions would be curriculum adherence. I am sure a little tweaking or taking the idea to run with could at the hopeful least provide for better results than now.

I do agree with you on the issues you suggest as well. Bad parenting is reigning in and excuses are abound. No one seems to want to hold a child accountable for his or her failures. Don't get me started on "participation awards" that reward a child for not being good enough with comfort in knowing its OK to not be the best. Isn't childhood the time that is supposed to prepare people for the real world? I never paid my mortgage with a participation award after a job interview.


RE: Meh
By theArchMichael on 6/8/2010 4:27:02 PM , Rating: 2
Actually when the top range of students from the US are compared to the top range of students in other countries, notably South Korea. Its the US students who are more adept at critical thinking and also writing (which implies creativity), while the South Korean students generally did better in math and sciences because of their more rigid drill based curriculum. This is a comparison of the Top 10% of performers from both nations in OECD tests (some debate their accuracy). In comparisons of the general American population of students vs the general population of foreign countries, the US fares much worse. Like 24th out of 28 countries...

Going to your second point, and tying it in with my first. Personally, I think there's room for more creative skill building AND math and science drill work AND civic and cultural studies, etc. Its a called a LONGER SCHOOL DAY . I don't think paying teachers more to do the same crappy/lackluster job is the end answer to our problems.

Pay the teachers more to DO MORE! if the parents have an option of a 9-5 school day at certain schools, their kids would be able to do participate in all the enriching activities that create well rounded individuals while also being able to really partake in drilling the multitude of concepts encompassed in a math/science curriculum.

A good example of this is KIPP, which is a nonprofit that setup a public charter middle school in Baltimore that serves the poor/high risk kids in West Balitmore (think The Wire, yeah its really that bad). The school has no entrance exam and lower income/high risk kids are given preference for admission. So they are NOT cherry picking. They have a longer schoolday and also go to school on some Saturdays half day. They also have shorter summer/spring/winter breaks. They make education fun by doing "cool" experiments in the classroom instead of just quickly referencing it in the textbook. But they also still have time to do the actual study required to impart real skills through drill work in the classroom.

All this to say, the standardized test scores of KIPP academy in baltimore are ASTOUNDING .
http://www.kippbaltimore.org/pub/Results
Maryland has one of the "better" education systems in the country but Baltimore public schools consistently rank among the worst in the nation. This one school with their extended hours and curriculum is scoring among the best in the state, its competitive with high priced private schools. It's just amazing to me to see this happen in West Baltimore ,arguably, one of the roughest neighborhoods in the US, definitely the roughest in the NorthEast.

Its just a same how much political bullshit surrounds education in this country from all parties, otherwise common sense options like this would be more widely available.


RE: Meh
By GourdFreeMan on 6/8/2010 7:07:19 PM , Rating: 2
From my personal experiences in the state of California the following are:

quote:
What we should be teaching in schools are critical thinking skills - reasoning, logic, problem-solving. That is what makes effective people.


True. A symbolic calculator like Mathematica can solve all K-12 and most undergraduate math problems once they are framed in the language of mathematics, and the language of your application.

quote:
The problem is that it takes a lot of effort to teach that way, whereas it takes no effort to teach (and then test for) rote memorization.


Debatable. I would say the problem is this requires the student to actually think, as opposed to follow the pattern laid out by the instructor. Experience with previous problems can help, but there is no guarantee that every student in a class room is capable of thinking this way, and no guarantee that even intelligent students can reliably come to the correct conclusions independently in a way that does stratify classes into catering to a student size of one. In short teaching isn't taking place per se, but rather independent learning with the teacher only acting as a check on correctness of the solution and chain of thought leading to it. You don't really see this happening much at lower levels of education, because you need mature students who will actually work under such conditions, rather than goofing off or soliciting their peers for the majority of the work. That's not to say it's entirely impossible, but most classes outside the gate/AP/honors curriculum have at least one or two bad apple and the presence of even one would make such a mode of instruction impossible. You can't expect someone to babysit and teach at the same time...

quote:
Couple that with the laughable salary that a teacher makes


False. Salaries are generally competitive, and students offer a captive and easily influenced ear to agitation in that regard. That is not to say an educator's life is easy by any means, but salary is not something I would put foremost on the list of grievances.

quote:
and massive class sizes


False, for K-12. Class sizes are generally under thirty, and usually in the low twenties in California. In some specialized high school classes (e.g. Calculus BC) there may be fewer than twelve students in a class. Undergraduate classes at colleges are another story, however. Both my linear algebra/differential equations and multivariable calculus classes had over a hundred students seated in an auditorium-like class room. That attitude that undergraduates are something to foist onto graduate student TAs, and are unworthy of a professor's attention that exists at some colleges is a problem.

quote:
and general underfunding due to budget cuts


Mostly False. Some elementary schools in poorer neighborhoods need building renovations, but I have never seen a school short of basic materials. Computers are available in most class rooms, again with the exception of some elementary schools in poorer neighborhoods. In some high schools and middle schools, every student is provided with the use of a free laptop for the duration of the school year.


RE: Meh
By Motoman on 6/8/2010 8:59:02 PM , Rating: 2
I honestly don't follow your first point...not sure why you're bringing up Mathematica.

On the second point, about teaching effort, you point out that the problem is requiring the student to think. Which is fair, but in rote memorization the student doesn't have to think, and the teacher doesn't have to teach them to think. In order to "make kids think" you have to teaching them actual thinking skills, and then how to apply those skills...and any "bad apples" get sent to the remedial class. And not necessarily bad apples, but as you point out there may be some kids who simply can't be taught to have good critical thinking/reasoning skills - in which case they also need to be put into remedial classes. The biggest problem there is the current societal pressure to make all kids feel like they're "equal" - everybody's special. Guess what cupcake...you're not special, and in fact it seems that you're having trouble keeping up with this class, so we're going to move you to a different class that's built for kids at your level.

On the third point, salaries: BS. Utter BS. I know a *lot* of teachers, and what they get paid is crap. Especially when you take into account the effort they have to go through to get teaching certificates, and what people who get lesser degrees in other disciplines make right out of college. Teacher salaries are a joke, and I defy you to prove otherwise.

And on the 4th point, class sizes, I again call BS. Frankly 30 is far too many to actually *teach* kids, both in my own opinion and the opinions of teachers I know. When you have class sizes that big, you pretty much can only manage to force rote memorization. You have no choice. Not sure if even 20 kids would be few enough to foster real education of crucial thinking skills. And in many metro areas, class sizes are 40 or more. The larger the class size, the less effective the class will be.

Lastly, on the topic of general underfunding...sure, some cherry-picked schools are great and issue laptops...but lots have squat. Great inequity across the board, meaning that, probably, if you come from an affluent family and live in an affluent area you have a decent chance of having a sufficiently-funded school. Otherwise, you don't.


RE: Meh
By GourdFreeMan on 6/9/2010 7:13:33 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
I honestly don't follow your first point...not sure why you're bringing up Mathematica.


If you ignore proofs, nearly every math problem students at this level will encounter results in distilling the information given to an equation or relationship, and them solving for the answer(s). Many exercises students are presented with skip even this and simply give the students an equation to solve or simplify. All such computations can be done in an applications like Mathematics in seconds to milliseconds. The emphasis on the process of solving equations and relations by hand is ultimately teaching a skill that is largely outdated when you look at things objectively. Admittedly in science and enginering the process sometimes gives hints on how to make good approximations when getting an exact solution is impossible or computationally expensive, but treating manual computation as the sole method of approaching problems when numerical solutions will be the sole methods of solving many problems seems a waste...

quote:
and any "bad apples" get sent to the remedial class


In advanvced classes, sure, but you propose to make this the mode of instuction for all levels and K-12. "Bad apples" tend to get swapped around at the elementary level, not removed, and though this sometimes resolves behavior problems, often it does not.

quote:
On the third point, salaries: BS. Utter BS.


Everyone believes they need to get paid better. This is universal across all occupations, and all levels of skill, regardless of what level of degrees, certificates and certifications a job requires. Be objective. Yes, dealing with children is difficult. Yes, there are a lot of occupations that deserve to be paid less than teachers (e.g. entertainment). Yes, teaching is a noble occupation that contributes more to the welfare of society than most occupations. However, there are an awful lot of kids, not all of which need top notch educators (and you want to cut class sizes). The real level of education and intelligence requied when not talking about university professors also pales in comparison to that of doctors, engineers, scientists and many other highly specialized professions.

quote:
And on the 4th point, class sizes


I can only state what I have personally observed. As I mentioned before I substituted for several years and saw a broad range of schools (from the best to the reformatory) and a broad range of classes K-12. I worked in a community with a metro area covering approximately one million people in two school districts. I rarely saw a class over thirty, even in impovrished neighborhoods. Most schools had class sizes in the low twenties (outside of smaller classes in specialized subjects in high school). I could give individual attention to students in a well behaved class of thirty, but would stuggle to be able to give students the attention they deserve in a class even half that size if there were frequent behavior problems. Many teachers give up in the first five years of their career, and it's seldom class size or salary that motivates their change of career. It is trouble with problem students or unsupportive administrators that drives this statistic.

quote:
Great inequity across the board, meaning that, probably, if you come from an affluent family and live in an affluent area you have a decent chance of having a sufficiently-funded school.


This is true, and it especially sad because at a young age most children are good, hard working, and generally try to be helpful, but as they grew up in rougher neighboorhoods the traits and negative attitudes of older sibilings and other members of their community destroy their potential to achieve. If they had good role models (be they educators or members of the community) and educational opportunities (not just sports or recreation) to pursue in their free time many could exceed just as well as those from more affluent families.


RE: Meh
By GourdFreeMan on 6/9/2010 7:29:11 PM , Rating: 2
Before anyone comments on my last paragraph, let me say that I am not blaming behavior problems solely on economic conditions or singling out impoverished students as the primary source of such problems. There is some correlation as students get older, but you are almost just as likely to find problem students in any socio-economic class.

I could tell stories of farm kids (high school students from middle class rural areas some of which literally did live on a farm) who talked and acted as if they were from a sterotypical ghetto, lacing their speech with profanity ( in a class room ), and put on shows of acting tough and defiant... but I think you get the idea.


RE: Meh
By GourdFreeMan on 6/9/2010 7:35:07 PM , Rating: 2
Sorry I made some spelling and word choice mistakes in my last two posts, but there is no edit function for posts, and, well, this is Dailytech -- no one should mind.


RE: Meh
By GourdFreeMan on 6/9/2010 9:28:23 PM , Rating: 2
This article will soon be bumped off the front page of Anandtech, so I won't be following it anymore, and won't respond to any further comments. However, if you doubt the veracity of anything I have written I encourage you to substitute teach in your local school district. It is one thing to parrot what you have been told or post opinions on a forum; it is something entirely different to have firsthand experience.

Some assignments have tightly plotted lesson plans, while others are less structured or even mere exercises in babysitting, so if you persist you will have ample opportunity to test your theories, if you wish. I know I have done my best to enrich the curriculum whenever I had expert knowledge on the subject at hand, and cooperative students willing to learn. Volunteering at a local school would also give you some firsthand experience and maybe the same opportunity, but you won't get a broader picture of what your local school district is really like.

Even if your county, state or nation does have a radically different educational system I think both you and the students in your community would profit from the experience. I look back on my own experiences with a bittersweet mixture of pride and frustration.


RE: Meh
By Drag0nFire on 6/8/2010 4:19:12 PM , Rating: 2
Go ahead and give yourself a 6. A very eloquent summary of exactly what I was thinking!


RE: Meh
By Etsp on 6/8/2010 7:31:39 PM , Rating: 2
Just because you agree does not mean a post is 6 worthy... a post is only 6 worthy if Kristopher Kubicki or Brandon Hill agrees with it. Get over yourself :P


RE: Meh
By acase on 6/8/2010 4:37:37 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
I have since received perfect scores on the SAT and GRE in math.


That's pretty impressive, but from reading some of your articles I'd really like to know your english score.


RE: Meh
By Chaotic42 on 6/8/2010 6:18:53 PM , Rating: 2
http://www.virtualapple.org/numbermunchersdisk.htm...

Munch away, my friend.

Anyway, I'm not sure what's worse, the state of teaching in the US or the state of parenting in the US. I guess they're really one in the same. I was playing math games on my C64 as a kid. Most of my games were educational, now that I think about it. Of course, if I ever asked my parents a question, they'd go out and find a book or magazine that covered the subject, give it to me, and tell me to give *them* the answer.

I was pretty lucky.


RE: Meh
By ImSpartacus on 6/8/2010 1:44:12 PM , Rating: 2
Teachers teaching?

Hey, let's not get too far ahead of ourselves.


RE: Meh
By keith524 on 6/9/2010 11:48:12 AM , Rating: 2
yeah next thing you'll want is for parents to parent


RE: Meh
By MrBlastman on 6/8/2010 2:32:44 PM , Rating: 2
I remember my brother having a terrible time with mathematics in school--until my mother purchased Davidson's Math Blaster series for him to play on our 286 back in the 80's. His scores went up and he managed to make it through his math classes.

Mission accomplished. The educational game did its job. Anything we can do to help kids with math in this nation is a good thing. If we make them feel good about it, they might lean more towards engineering or the sciences later on. Far better than them ending up taking sports classes to fill 3 or 4 slots in high school during their senior year.

Cultivate their minds, encourage learning... make America smarter.


RE: Meh
By epobirs on 6/8/2010 4:13:44 PM , Rating: 2
Why not both? The lessons taught are better retained with exercises like this to reinforce the learning. The earlier a student can master the basics reflexively, things like multiplication answers, the sooner they are equipped to take on the stuff that requires real cognitive effort.

And it doesn't hurt for advanced students or graduates to refresh their skills in the guise of entertainment. All too often, if you don't use it, you lose it.


RE: Meh
By GourdFreeMan on 6/8/2010 6:05:09 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
How about teachers teach?


Apparently you did not read the linked article. This is an after school program. Also it is targeting middle schoolers. If you think it is easy to teach middle school kids I invite you to substitute teach at your nearest non-gate/magnet middle school. You will rapidly discover that you spend far more time dealing with behavior problems than teaching.

I spent several years substitute teaching, before my health deteriorated, and teaching middle school frequently made me long for the days of corporal punishment... no, truth be told, it made me desire to institute capital punishment in the school system.


RE: Meh
By monkeyman1140 on 6/9/2010 1:26:14 PM , Rating: 2
Seems pretty violent to me. After all, Boba Fett uses a jet pack too.


Hold on
By cknobman on 6/8/2010 1:17:23 PM , Rating: 4
A. That is a woman?
B. I hope the (woman) pictured is not a parent of a current student.
C. From the looks of her age she would probably be against anything other than an abacus used for teaching.




RE: Hold on
By BladeVenom on 6/8/2010 2:23:33 PM , Rating: 2
"That's not your mother, it's a man, baby!"


RE: Hold on
By BadAcid on 6/8/2010 3:35:11 PM , Rating: 2
First thing I thought after reading headline and seeing picture was "wow, she even looks like Jack Thompson"


RE: Hold on
By bodar on 6/8/2010 8:13:24 PM , Rating: 2
I'm thinking Jack watched "Mrs Doubtfire" too many times and this is the "ingenious" plan he came up with.


Dennis30 pwns
By FaceMaster on 6/8/2010 3:02:02 PM , Rating: 4
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uoFsMIsuKSo

I don't see the problem with it. Getting people to pay attention is half the battle. If they actually ENJOY the game, and it does indeed teach things, I think that this is a big step up.

Sure, you could say that games requiring maths to kill enemies is violent, but I personally see the challenge and gameplay as the things keeping them hooked. I don't fantasise about killing real people on CSS (Okay, some times I do. But not often.) I love beating an opponent, knowing that I'm better than them. Heck, chess is the same. I don't fantasise about horses raping queens (Okay, some times I do. But not often.). Plus if all else fails, these maths students will be great mortar teams come WW3.

Win-win situation, anyone?




RE: Dennis30 pwns
By AssBall on 6/8/2010 3:37:23 PM , Rating: 3
Yep, you have to know your one-two-threes before you fire an 18 inch shell 25 miles.


RE: Dennis30 pwns
By IcePickFreak on 6/8/2010 6:17:11 PM , Rating: 2
I agree, at least at the general point being made. Schools need to implement more real world lessons when teaching the fundamental skills.

I absolutely HATED arithmetic and math all through school, and did horribly at it. That was, up until I found something that sparked my interest. Around 14 is when I really starting getting curious on the mechanics on how things work or are built. That started with cars (which still continues), but it gave me a more practical approach as to why math works the way it works. Prior to that, I didn't care why x = y^2 just because "That's the way it is". All of a sudden math became a huge interest to me and subsequently one of my strengths rather than a weakness. Fast forward to today and I work in mechanical engineering.

Likewise, once I started gaining understanding on how various things work on a more technical level, that led to studying history to see how "one thing led to another", and gain interest in science as it goes hand in hand with engineering in the bigger picture.

Now maybe this game isn't the best example, but video "games" can be made to better make the connection of the fundamentals with the bigger picture. I think even at a young age, if presented, kids will find what genuinely interests them and learning the basics comes much more naturally. Schools usually tend to go with "things are this way because I said" or "do this because I said" and then wonder why nobody is eager to do it. Whereas if the students are expanding on an interest, all of a sudden the basics become an interest, and on and on. A game could be made for just about anything to draw on these interests to teach the basics and make the connections. Heck, I can honestly say in all my years of video gaming on just regular games, I've actually learned quite a bit of real world knowledge, if simply by piquing my interest to research something. Of course, the majority of that was before the huge rush of war games & shooters. Then again, I spent a lot of time blowing stuff up in flight sims, and those can teach you a huge amount if you want to be proficient at the "game".

I think learning in a more practical way like that would also reduce the amount of kids just out of school who are "lost". They would know what interests and excites them which would guide them more towards careers that suit them and that they are productive in because of their interest.


Quit yer #@!##in'
By XSpeedracerX on 6/8/2010 1:19:01 PM , Rating: 5
Get back to your golden girls episodes and bran flakes, grandma. If this tool helps kids learn math, then good on them.




RE: Quit yer #@!##in'
By AssBall on 6/8/2010 1:46:21 PM , Rating: 2
She needs to settle down and go play a couple rounds of Soldier of Fortune. Then she might get a clue what a "real" violent video game is and be happy that this one is rated G.


Anatomy
By ClownPuncher on 6/8/2010 1:48:48 PM , Rating: 4
Someone should have taught Marlene there where the neck is supposed to end and the face is supposed to start.




RE: Anatomy
By chagrinnin on 6/8/2010 5:59:19 PM , Rating: 2
You'd think her life partner would've said something. :P


Children taught to succeed?
By lightfoot on 6/8/2010 12:29:14 PM , Rating: 5
quote:
'I'm getting ahead, I'm getting ahead, I'm getting ahead.'

Heaven forbid that American school children want to get ahead in life. Next thing you know they will start trying to succeed. We must put a stop to this now!




Number Muncher NOM NOM NOM!
By Assimilator87 on 6/8/2010 12:34:57 PM , Rating: 5
You call that violent? I grew up playing Number Muncher in elementary school and this lady would have a field day if she saw that game. Those poor defenseless numbers; they didn't even have a chance. So much needless murdering *single tear*




If kids play games in school...
By HostileEffect on 6/8/2010 10:10:50 PM , Rating: 2
I did a little thinking and if kids get to play games in school, it should be an after school program with realistic military simulations where the players must do all the math calculations to successfully win.

I mean dive physics, cubed roots, range math, and all the nice and simple stuff it would required to save your ass. Throw in a little mechanical puzzle solving for the dive part that requires you figure how much fluid moves through a pipe or something.

If you score a headshot at some ridiculous distance, it should go... BOOM! HEADSHOT!!!

Better yet... just take them to the rifle range and run them through a bunch of different measurements and conversions. If they successfully calculate range and convert distance from meters to yards or meters to inches or something they get to ping some metal.

Maybe my practical ideas are too simple, practical, cheap, and politically incorrect and would raise a firestorm in the media.




By Klinky1984 on 6/9/2010 7:58:08 AM , Rating: 2
Hmm, a class field trip to a firing range just seems to be asking for a disaster...


Why?
By Aikouka on 6/8/2010 12:32:10 PM , Rating: 3
I looked up this game DimensionM ( http://www.dimensionm.com ) in what capacity I have, and I can't find any examples of it being violent. Based off of what I read, it's an exploration game (similar to such oldies (but goodies) as Myst) in which you use mathematics to solve puzzles or gain access.

So rather than the usual "video games are violent" mantra, this woman is simply unhappy that they are playing a game to begin with. That's well within her own right, but she isn't exactly putting up a compelling argument detailing how this game does not help. In fact, she's simply being skeptical. I guess in that case, it'll definitely be interesting to see the results of testing before and after use with the game.

I just think of what it'd be like if I had nifty games such as this when I was younger. I do recall playing Number Munchers (and Word Munchers) on my old MS-DOS 486DX PC though :).




Results?
By stirfry213 on 6/8/2010 12:28:17 PM , Rating: 2
Where's the results thats proves their radical proclamation? I'd like to see the statistics on how kids retain the critical information when taught like this.

My guess is it will be just as mixed as kids taught in a traditional lecture/book method. Not everyone learns the same.




Math games...
By WraithAkaMrak on 6/8/2010 12:31:47 PM , Rating: 2
Too late to bring back the Apple IIs & Number Munchers?




where can I buy?
By Morphine06 on 6/8/2010 12:35:21 PM , Rating: 2
From the video, it appears that some teamwork was needed to accomplish the goals as well as math. They were even communicating (voice chatting =P) as to what they needed to do. I would love to have this for my kids and I'm going to do some research on that.

Oh, and my bet is the child of that complaining parent will become a secret Left 4 Dead III player who just griefs and rage quits.




Typical ass backwards New Mexico
By Desslok on 6/8/2010 1:20:04 PM , Rating: 2
I have live in NM for 8 years now and I have to say this does NOT surprise me at all. The ABQ school districts have a ~50% graduation rate and the parents love to bash the school system which I am sure shares some of the responsibility but this is also a two way street people look in the mirror and ask yourself if you are a good role model for your nino.

Instead of worrying about a math video game why not worry about if your precious nino is hanging around the wrong crowd and has food on the table.

I would put money on if this game wasn't bought with DoD money nobody would care.




By JHTL on 6/8/2010 2:08:23 PM , Rating: 2
I grew up in VN and we didn't have video games to teach us math. We got the teachers, after school 'enrichment' programs and fellow students to teach us. I already learned Pre algebra in six grade in VN; while in the US most kids don't want to touch it until 8th grade.

Basically it's just setting up an environment where you need to learn then you'll have to learn. I think a mix of pushing, encouragement, parental involvement, teachers and friends that can make kids learn. Games should be a supplement not a replacement.




By HostileEffect on 6/8/2010 4:06:25 PM , Rating: 2
I think if one locked kids into a communal prison cell for eight hours a day, not including travel time and homework it is almost guaranteed that the kids will be screaming "I HATE SCHOOL", "I HATE LEARNING". Anything associated with the school that isn't fun will likely be rebelled against.

I think think using games as learning tools is a bad direction. I played many "educational" games and I feel that I learned more practical information from Deus Ex.

There is an absurd amount of garbage information being taught in the schools of our time. I think world history should be very short, we live in America not Europe. I got very tired of hearing the same repeated American history every year with no alternate opinions in the gray areas. Things like the Stanford Prison Experiment, human influence, choice and consequence, were unheard of.

I found chemistry to be absolutely worthless to me and I learned more about chemistry from Youtube! I think the whole class should be thrown out. World history is equally as useless. If kids want to learn that, give them an optional class.

Stop trying to use educational games or add more hours to the day. I think kids need less hours and a simple math/English/American history/factual biology/useful science. If you want to debate the origins of the universe and life then make an optional class called "origins" or something. Giving kids less hours and more free time would help them hate school less and have more time to study what actually matters.

Get rid of the second language classes, this is the United States of America, not Mexico, France, Germany or any other country. I've been out of school for a few years now and my curiosity is perking up again, I want to learn another language now, among other things, it goes a lot faster when its willing.

Learning is breaking something. You get curious about something but you broke it, now you take it apart without instructions and figure out how to fix it and put it back together. learning is using a multi-year old light bulb then having that light bulb break while changing it when you left the light switch on. Learning is remembering the amount of sparks coming from said socket, aka, too many. You also learn it the first time.

The humanistic animals and teddy bears have to go, no game will fix this trauma. Kids these days are ninja juggling chainsaws, decapitating their enemies, and glorifying the destruction of all mankind in one way or another, in games of course. After eight hours of being a slave to the system, a smiling flower holding some numbers is enough to get some kids to rage charge the nearest tree while screaming KILL!!! at the top of their lungs. Maybe that is a good thing since most kids are sissified into being nice and sensitive.

Even kids are free minds and when someone else tries to extend their will over the kids will then your going to run into problems. If it was a choice to be submissive, ex, employment, then the problem doesn't exist. I'm still pissed off that people are trying to dictate what light bulbs I should use.

I don't care what your SAT scores are or your education or your ability to parrot information out of books. I care about someone being able bodied with good morals and the ability to learn new things with hands on experience.

At the end of the day, no game is EVER going to fix a broken education system and lack of social and cultural discipline.

TBH, IMHO, Education should be bought. If you choose to be educated and want to get ahead of everyone else, great, if you want to be uneducated, that is great too, the world needs janitors until people pick up after themselves. Quality janitors do make some good money...




Dear God......
By morphologia on 6/8/2010 4:58:58 PM , Rating: 2
I am sick of lazy parents who try to force everyone else to enforce their particular parenting style, by banning everything they disagree with. That way they don't even have to exert the effort needed to teach their kids ethics; God forbid that parenting require any active interaction with reality.

The only learning environment a parent has any right to manipulate is their own home. If they don't like the outside influences, they should raise their kids in an underground bunker...or at least homeschool them.




About a decade or two late
By borismkv on 6/8/2010 5:01:55 PM , Rating: 2
Seriously. Jetpacks are violent content? How about blasting buffalo into extinction in Oregon Trail? Or Math Blaster? Or the myriad of "educational" games that have been made since the mid 80's? Hell. I picked up an interest in the history of 17th century from "Pirates!" (And from there, an interest in history in general.)




Math
By IamJedi on 6/8/2010 7:15:29 PM , Rating: 2
To begin, I am sorry if a similar discussion, relating to my post, has already been posted below; however, there are too many to read.

I think that the core problem here is that kids just aren't interested in learning math like they use to be. Society has changed a lot in the past fifty years, and so to have the ways kids get information, interact with other people, and generally behave. What I am trying to get at here is that kids have no incentive to want to learn today; not while there is an Xbox, computer, and DVD player in their room, no; therefore, I believe that a kid will only want to learn when he/she is surrounded by a familiar, exciting atmosphere, like this game "DimensionM" provided.

People are not losing the ability to learn, but are losing the incentive to want to learn. I am in college right now, and I have a hard time taking some of my classes seriously because the topics are not engaging, the lessons are boring, and the atmosphere is generally also boring, too. I would much rather sit on my ass and play a video game all day then go to school.

Point and being, I think that this DimensionM game is a great way to entice young people into wanting to learn math. When the teacher actually makes learning something fun then the class becomes more engaged in the topics of study. Reading from a textbook is not nearly as fun as playing a game that requires math.




By Klinky1984 on 6/9/2010 7:55:23 AM , Rating: 2
That Marlene Perrotte looks a lot like Kent Brockman.




Other possible game tasks ?
By tygrus on 6/9/2010 9:45:03 AM , Rating: 2
The following are NOT recommended for children's mathematical education:-
* If there is 1 guy and 5 of his mates, how many friends do you need for 2 against one in your favour.

* If the gun accuracy is 1cm per 2m you stand away, how far away can you be and still be within 12cm of the middle of the dummy chest?

* If the deer is moving 5meters per second, what distance should you lead the deer with a 0.2s gun delay ?

* If you can test 1 permutation per second, how long will it take to crack a permutation lock of 3 dials of 0 to 9?
* How many boxes does it take to make a bed ?
* How many newspaper sheets does it take to create a blanket ?
* If a twenty dollar bill weighs 2grams, how much does $1M of $20 bills weigh?
If each story is 3m apart and the window sill is 1m above the floor, how far would you fall out the third story window?

Please excuse the non-American spelling and metric units, I live in Australia.




This game is too violent
By YashBudini on 6/11/2010 12:19:17 AM , Rating: 2
said the parent while watching blood soaked fights on Spike.




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