Under the Prussian Model, schooling becomes a choking prose; the ring of the bell its punctuation.
A Quotation for Consideration
Professor Michael Merzenich, who works at the University of California, San Francisco, said that “our brains are vastly different, in fine detail, from the brains of our ancestors… In each stage of cultural development… the average human had to learn complex new skills and abilities that all involve massive brain change… Each one of us can actually learn an incredible elaborate set of ancestrally developed skills and abilities in our lifetimes, in a sense generating a re-creation of this history of cultural evolution via brain plasticity” (Doidge).
In essence, culture changes the way we think.
Before I propose an alternative teaching method, let’s take a brief look at the education system implemented into schools today. What we have here in the United States is what is called the “Prussian Model of Schooling” which includes mandatory courses, a national grading system, and specific instruction necessities for all students and teachers. This education model dates all the way back to the Kingdom of Prussia and its 18th Century curriculum Volksschule.
When looking at Middle and High school, we find that education has become categorized learning separated by brief bouts of “free period” (typically approximately five minutes in length, as students transition from one classroom to the next). In college we have the same, except these “free periods” continue even longer, at times lasting up to several hours.
However, in this past century we’ve seen the rise of a technological implementation in which we, as human beings, can engage for hours without interruption. That technology? Video games.
Reform, the Proposal Stage
We don’t live in the Pleistocene Age anymore. Nor are we 18th Century Prussians. The Millennials, as we’ve been nick’d by the media, are an impatient and visually-impressed zeitgeist generation. Education as lecturer and pupils encaged inside four classrooms walls is sentimental at best. New blood clamors for a new body and we must deliver. Thus, my application of video games.
Specifically, video games that have been tailored to educate with sequential precision, “play world” architecture, and yet inestimable developments of critical thinking. Games should be capricious enough to avoid proscribed thinking patterns. What we’re looking for is “neuroplastic” stepping stones that allow children to fully articulate internal disorder into both individual and societal remuneration.
That means the consequences of failure will be gentle, while “in-game” rewards will reimburse hard-work with virtual pleasures. Or will they? As this is all theoretical with very little exploration of subject matter, even conceptions of this proposal’s project is limited to preconceived philosophy on video game potential for tutorage.
Doidge, Norman. The Brain That Changes Itself. Penguin Books: New York City, 2007.
LITERATURE CS 15 Section 1
Disney and analogous animations are a medium not usually perceived as high art, but are just as applicable for critical analysis. In this colloquium we will perilously engage in deconstructing archetypes, mythological figures, and conflicting ideologies in the Disney “universe.” Disney’s persistent use of adapted story, dead family members, gender roles, race, distorted history, as well as manipulation of visual presentation, music, history, popular culture and subtle sexuality – makes the Disney oeuvre a thing that can be explored by both the childish and cerebral. This colloquium will also explore new methods of telling story when universal brand and a globalized audience must be considered. Writing projects will include critical essays and creative writing within the topic. Students will turn in a portfolio of collected stories, poetry and essays at the end of the quarter. Exploration of other forms of media, like Hanna Barbara, Pixar, or Hayao Miyazaki films, will also be allowed.
Note: Student Colloquia are limited to a maximum of Two (2.0) units Pass. Units for this class are lower-division UCSB units.
Byrne, Eleanor. Deconstructing Disney. Pluto Press: London, 1999.
Griffin, Sean. Tinker Belles and Evil Queens. University Press: New York, 2000.
Wasko, Janet. Understanding Disney. Blackwell Publishers Ltd: Cambridge, 2001.
Student Instructor: Desmond White
Faculty Advisor: Jim Donelan