Learning by Playing? Not so Crazy.

Learning through play, as much as we feel that we have progressed in our education machinations, the more we have not. Learning through play is not nearly as revolutionary as people think. Getting children to play games to fit into future roles for society has been happening for a long time. For example, over the summer I was fortunate enough to be able to visit a local aboriginal reserve and learn some parts of their culture. During this visit, we were shown a traditional game to help children learn accuracy for hunting. In this game, a hoop is rolled on the ground and players attempt to throw an arrow through without stopping the hoop. When the children were able to do that, you add a pattern across the hoop, aiming for certain areas of the pattern to earn points. Then the children are given a bow, to shoot through the open spaces. I believe there was also the option to play on horseback to work on equestrian skills as well. This one example from our own backyard is one of many. Cultures all across the globe have taught skills to children as practice for the future. A buzzword of education is ‘engagement’. How can we get students invested and interested in something? This is the same question game creators struggle with. How can they keep the player invested and interested in what is going on and will continue to go on? Looking back, it seems a natural fit for games in education. There are well known mascots, worlds, and series that many students will play of their own accord. If teachers are able to tap into that interest students have for these games the engagement for learning could potentially go up. I think the failure of ‘edu-tational’ games have left a bad taste in many teachers mouths. Where the games were designed strictly for the purpose of education. I believe these are not the way to begin adding games into our classrooms. I believe using the underlying ‘teachable’ moments in games create the most fun and interesting way to play. In  the article ‘Why educational games fail’ by Stutt (2010), gives even more great examples of how these educational games fail. I think even using a game for fun is not a bad idea in a classroom. If the teacher can tie in the ‘Game’ aspect. Having students dissect and think about how values, ideas, or aspects of the game can be utilized in the real world.

Note: I was not able to find the exact game I was talking about in terms of the First Nations perspective, instead I have linked a website where you could find many more games if you are interested.


Stutt, T. (2010, October 18). Why Educational Games Fail. Retrieved November 29, 2017, from https://etcjournal.com/2010/10/18/why-educational-games-fail/

Network, C. H. (n.d.). Woodlands Games and Sports. Retrieved November 29, 2017, from http://www.virtualmuseum.ca/edu/ViewLoitLo.do?method=preview&lang=EN&id=11729


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