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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RE: Meh
By Solandri on 6/8/2010 2:42:22 PM , Rating: 4
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.

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.
(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)

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.

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.


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.

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