Emmanuel Mashandudze

Business Intelligence, Tools and Process Specialist, Witwatersrand University

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Education versus Entertainment

It is assumed that today's generation spends half their time on the internet, on the cellphone or watching TV. How best can we trap this generation into learning even when they think they are having fun.

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    Nov 17 2011: Ironically, earlier today I posted this quote to the McLuhan 2011 project:

    Anyone who tries to make a distinction between education and entertainment doesn't know the first thing about either.
    - Marshall McLuhan
  • Nov 19 2011: entertain the education and educate the entertainer, by this I mean find a way to obtain an academic response through the method of entertainment while using the entertainment in a form that challenges one to explore and understand its mechanics and design.
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    Nov 16 2011: I'm an unschooler, a type of homeschooler who has no curriculum, we all do self guided study. While I do think that schools undervalue how much having fun at school can be, I think that the goal can't always be to have fun. A lot of unschoolers I know are in fact debilitated by the fact that they have too much fun. They don't know what they are learning, let alone that they are learning, because to them it is merely "fun".
    However, having fun can promote interest in a subject. I know that while I was in school I expressed no interest in Chemistry until I had a teacher that was ‘fun’. I do suggest that teachers attempt to show a fun side to the subject they teach, but I don’t think that learning should be turned into a game.
    I think that kids don’t need to be tricked into thinking that they are having fun. For one, that would be extremely difficult. Imagine making a lesson plan if you had to convince the children that they were actually just ‘playing’. Second, they wouldn’t be aware of what they are learning. Third, it would mean the the children might not actually be invested in the subjects they seem to be. For example, in ninth grade, when I had a chemistry teacher who was tons of fun, I loved chemistry. The next year, as soon as I no longer got to work with him, I realized that I didn’t actually enjoy chemistry, I just enjoyed that class because it was more “fun”
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    Nov 13 2011: This is a great topic, Emmanuel! I think we need to start by making a clear distinction between "fun" and "rewarding". Entertainment is fun, but education is rewarding. On the level of "fun", education simply cannot compete with entertainment. Fun is instantaneous, requiring little investment on the part of the person enjoying it. Attempting to make education "fun" might very well be a mistake.

    Reflect on a time where you were trying to learn something really difficult, whether it was an abstract concept or a physical skill. The time you spent mastering this thing probably wasn't "fun" in any popular sense of the word, but it certainly felt rewarding to perceive your own progress. This is especially true at the end, when you have achieved a certain level of mastery. The reward comes in bits and pieces along the way, with the biggest piece being at the conclusion. Fun doesn't usually work the same way.

    If we as educators indulge the adolescent urge to only do what is fun, we risk crippling our students' success in future endeavors. Every bit as important as the concepts and skills we are teaching, is the ethic of delayed gratification. Without it, people will not have the discipline to pursue mastery, and will miss out on the real reward.
  • Dec 6 2011: When San Diego had an unanticipated power outage across the county a few months ago, it was probably the best thing that happened to most neighborhoods. Minimal cell phone service, little to no electricity, and a psychological state where each resident was dependent on his or her neighbors for news updates or simple necessities like food, water or candles. Many of us came out of our shells of isolation to talk to next door strangers about what they knew and thought was going on. Following the outage, everyone came back to work happy and well-rested and realized that taking a break from technology was a good thing. I think that we need to have sporadic breaks from technology to remind us that there are other ways to learn and have fun.
  • Nov 7 2011: i feel everyone(all generations) prefer >> Education which is Entertaining like TED ;D
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    Nov 6 2011: To realise that a self employed plumber cannot generate business by merely marketing their business online, via social network media or advertising. A SMART plumber would actually get themselves into the big wide world and communicate verbally and by the 'old fashioned' method face to face with their audience. In other words internet, mobile phones and TVs are merely tools
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      Nov 7 2011: Most ideas are not viable until you have enough information in the discipline or domain. It would be nice to go out to the world and tell your idea but without enough knowledge the idea is hardly firm enough to gather an audience. Social networks are the new model of knowledge engineering.