[Edu-sig] re: Education Arcade

Kirby Urner urnerk at qwest.net
Sat Dec 13 19:02:55 EST 2003

> Kirby, this is an example of the problem.  When you teach children
> using a simulation, you teach them, in addition to everything else,
> to think within the system that the simulators were using.

Yes, I agree.  So show them several simulations and discuss their

The thing is, I don't see any way to get away from bias, no matter how we do

Kids have been brought up within confining belief systems since time
immemorial.  As adults, we pretty much take them for granted, or exchange
one for another from time to time.

> So here we have, as unchallenged assumption -- it costs big bucks to
> become president.  The fix for that would be to pass campaign finance
> reform -- forbid spending beyond a certain amount.  Every version
> of those stump speeches come with the biases of the people who
> authored them.  Their results have the outcomes that somebody
> programmed in as well.  You have now taught the children how to
> use emotional language to criticise people and get them to change
> their positions based on how well you can manipulate them.  Your
> funding base, presumably, is either the White, Prosperous Middle
> class, or Big Business -- since you are campaign contribution based.

I'd like students to develop a critical eye w/r to educational games.

Ideally, we play the games, then talk about what assumptions they embody.

I don't necessarily want to cushion them either, by making the simulations
too unreal.  As a matter of fact, it does cost big bucks to become president
in many countries, and emotional language is used manipulatively all the
time.  It's better to develop and awareness of this than to pretend it
doesn't exist.  My simulation is, in a way, a parody.
> Does your simulation reflect the fact that poor people do not vote
> in the USA?  Negative ads are now a fact of life .... it goes on,
> and on.

Yes.  I worked in a voter outreach organization once, trying to get more
poor people to vote.  We'd show up at the post office in Washington DC at 2
AM and send out hundreds of dollars worth of get-out-the-vote flyers by
express mail.

> I don't want another generation of Americans conditioned to view the
> system as something that can not be changed, but can only be worked.

I think a first step towards creative change is simulating something
accurately.  A simulation that focused on the influence of big money in
political affairs might well be an agent for exactly the kind of change
you'd support.

> I don't know what the best way to teach children how to question
> authority, recongnise opportunities, and strive to improve the society
> they are in, but I suspect that this is a step in precisely the wrong
> direction.
> Laura

I think it might be in the right direction.  Did you like 'Wag the Dog'?
How about 'Senator Bullworth'?


More information about the Edu-sig mailing list