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For many of us teachers, this is somewhat disconcerting. Gamification is fine when students are trying to save Zelda, but it’s more problematic when math becomes an obstacle, and eighth grade just another “level.”

The author is delusional. That's exactly what 8th, or any other grade, is. Get enough points, proceed to the next grade. Score high enough on the leader board, proceed to the college you want.




Agreed, this was exactly where I started to get suspicious.

Author: "Gamification is bad when applied to eighth grade."

I kept looking for the support for that claim, didn't really find any. The IPI study was tossed in, but it dealt with a tangentially related educational program, and seemed to endorse methods focused education over memorization of answers. This article was attacking process focused aspects of Khan, so I'm not sure IPI was the best study to cite.

It's a drawn out article, and light on evidence. I wouldn't look to the author for advice on teaching others critical thinking.


Sadly the majority of Khan videos are not process focused but rather focused on memorizing procedures. This is a very big problem in math education traditional and otherwise. Hard to fix, but KA makes no acknowledgement that incorporating good mathematics pedagogy is even important. This is short sighted and could be remedied.


The problem here is that it's called "gamification." This view is an impoverished view of gaming that leaves out it's most important component: gaming is play.

Gamification of education would be wonderful. The thing is, it wouldn't consist of adding things like leaderboards and achievements. As people have pointed out, we already have those. Gamification should really be about the return of play to the primary role in learning.


> Get enough points, proceed to the next grade.

That would improve on the current system, which passes failing students along as well, right up until they hit university and find out they need a few years of remedial classes.


I disagree. Gamification is the application of game design techniques to non-game situations to make them more interesting and engaging, in order to encourage people to do things they might otherwise not do because they find them boring or uninteresting.

You can't just take something people don't like and don't want to do, and stick in arbitrary "levels" and have that motivate them. The levels have to represent some achievement that is desirable to the person.


The more invested and successful you are in some arbitrary game, the more you seek to justify the (nonexistent) purpose of the game. It's pretty scary.


I'm shocked by how often this needs to be pointed out.


There is one group of people who hardly ever need to have this pointed out to them: eighth grade students. They know how arbitrary it can be.


And not to mention, kids love games! If fun and play makes things more engaging, and we learn better when engaged, why not make school more fun?


Part of school is playing the game. But if you reduce education to a game, you are losing something of incredible value. School and education are not always the same thing. And education is not a game. It's purpose is freedom. And it is fundamentally important to the human experience in a way that points and rewards simply aren't.




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