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Erik Richardson

Teacher, Richardson Ideaworks, Inc.


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Could we use the adventure of space to reignite education and use that, in turn, to escape the gravity of the conflict paradigm?

Excellence must be motivated by a goal, and the educational system seems to have no powerful, unifying goal, which explains why it repeatedly falls short of excellence. If we can embrace a shared goal like the exploration of space with all of its adventure and wonder, and if we can recognize that success requires that we collaborate and cooperate across cultures (especially major powers like U.S., India, and China) to move beyond our little solar neighborhood, do you think that would be sufficient to shift civilization's conceptual framework from the traditional conflict paradigm to one of curiosity? If so, how do we get from drawing board to launchpad?

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    Apr 23 2011: As a video game and 3D art developer, I believe the answer to our educational woes lies wholly in this new technology. It is archaic and outrageous to me that the Dept. of Education has not embraced this new medium to help our students in any way, and still relies on the paper and pencil system for evaluation. The future is on the computer! If we utilized, as you suggest, the adventure of space to help educate and inspire young minds, it would create the biggest impact on students of all levels. In my opinion, the way to get from drawing board to launch pad is first, invest in the infrastructure. It has to be either a non-profit or government funded operation to employ these game developers, artists and creative professionals to produce a captivating and engaging educational game. It's possible, but often we get side tracked by our leaders and elected officials and the change is slow, much too slow.

    The traditional conflict paradigm as I see it, is more of a product of our own willingness to accept the status quo. I would like to see the tapping into of new possibilities and the demanding of progress.
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      Apr 23 2011: Using video game technology as the intermediate link is an awesome idea, Paul. Wish I were talented enough to pull this off on a proof-of-case scenario! Maybe I can list that in my professional teaching goals . . .
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      May 25 2011: Paul: Here in the UK there appears to be a push for video games design to be recognized in education as the diverse field it is (For potential school/college/university graduates). Hopefully, with recognition, the education system will start to incorporate it more as a medium for teaching like you suggest. I'm sure the UK games industry would be more than happy to oblige with educational tools if given enough government backing for such a project, and, with the economy as it currently is, that seems more and more likely as the value of the industry as an export is starting to be recognized.
  • Apr 27 2011: No, space adventures would not reignite education. Does education need reigniting?
    As for the conflict paradigm, wouldn't encouraging face to face meeting of people with disparate cultures, or the at least nonprejudicial teaching of human encounters, be helpful?

    Having one unifying goal sounds like trying to build one mold to fit all. There are many things that motivate people to learn, and some may not appreciate using space adventures as a basis to get educated.

    If "success requires that we collaborate and cooperate across cultures", would that include Somalia, Haiti, Congo, Columbia? China and India are easy to pick out because they are building their own newsworthy success, but is America willing to share the adventure with countries that makes their name by being the poorest? What about countries that are becoming as well developed as the U.S. but are not in the news such as Mexico and Brazil?

    All the same, I am frustrated by the lack of motivation to explore space. How to convince people it is better to spend money on a space program as opposed to military preoccupations? Can you convince Americans who are overweight, happy, and -uh - satisfied (indifferent?) that a catalyst to global cooperation would be adventures in space?

    I am a bit skeptical of using today's technology as a silver bullet to solve a problem, as much as I will defend that using technology does not doom a person to miss learning basic principles. Long distance education works, as is done in Australia and Alaska using radio. Interacting with a computers and the internet works for young people. But in general, the culture I live in does not have the infrastructure in place, the needed experience, or willingness to try this kind of education.

    As for using video games specifically, you can learn from them, just as comic books can teach (both have a bad stigma attached to them). But, you need physical play and social interaction to supplement and for balance.
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      Apr 27 2011: Yes, the education system does indeed need to be reignited.

      One model to fit all might not be the ideal, but right now we have too many possible goals and not enough motivation. When you talk about trying to upgrade curricula, leverage resources, and generate meaningful improvement, there are distinct disadvantages to having too many goals. We can't just put possible goals in front of kids, that is clearly not working. We have to show them the value and attainability of those goals, and help them get excited about something worth aiming at.

      I don't understand, from your example, how Somallia or Haiti could possibly be in a position to collaborate on a space project. Collaboration means each side brings something to the table, not one side giving handouts and resources to the other. This question has the same problem as the other: if we try to include everyone all at once, the project will fail on a ridiculous scale. Let's get it to start growing first, then look at expanding it to include others.