Tuesday, April 1, 2014

"Aber was ist eigentlich Bildung? [...] ein Wort von Hegel: Bildung heisst sich die Dinge von Standpunkt eines anderen Ansehen können." (Gadamer, Hans-Georg, Vortrag aus dem Jahr 1990: "Die Vielfalt der Sprachen und das Verstehen der Welt.")

Loosely translated this would mean that in the words of Hegel, Hans-Georg Gadamer says that Bildung =  literacy, cultivation, learning, formation, education (yes, the German word does cover all of those key elements of education alone) is being able to consider subjects from another's standpoint. This is what drives me when we talk about education. The Swedish word "bildning" is not so far away from the word as it is in English, which has probably made it a lot easier to assimilate this idea of education for me. As you can see, this leads on to even more specifics as to what the concepts really are, which would make this entry really long. Now, I do not underestimate your ability to read, however, as this is an inquiry that every pedagog, let alone every person should pursue, this also means that I myself can at this time and space (on this blog) not express the full concepts of what it means to educate. I will look into this further ahead in my other entries. 

What do I mean when I say that this is something that has driven me as a teacher? It means that I need to consider myself and my students as part of a  literacy, cultivation, learning, formation, education that will be going on for the rest of our lives. It means that I have to get myself out there, to grasp at what I did not know much about myself. It means that I need to continue my own literacy, cultivation, learning, formation, education. Being a teacher makes this ideal for me, since I alongside my students try to constantly consider others' standpoints. The subject of history is full of different standpoints. That is where the game Civilization 5 comes into play (literally). The players/students create their own civilizations' history and see it from their own perspective in the various scenarios that we play. I have not taught history this way before, but I have put myself alongside my students out there in the unknown. 

Entirely unknown? No, of course not, plenty of research is available on gaming in the classroom as well as on the game's predecessor, Civilization III. Having read through a lot of previous research, it was evident to me that games could help teaching. What is needed consideration though, is that it needs more than the game itself; the game is a means of telling something within its own limited parameters. That is why we need to analyze the game as what it is and what it presents. The students answer questions on the use of history in the game as well as questions about causality and knowledge of history. They learn the course of history while they make their own within the parameters of the game. The game is in this case course material and in class we treat it with a critical analysis, just as we would with any history book. 

How is it being used? Firstly, the students play through a scenario, such as the one which will in short be presented here on the blog, Conquest of the New World Deluxe. As they are playing, the students are also logging their gameplay with the primary question at hand: what is the historical event/ are the historical events depicted in the game? Compare with a historical depiction of the same event/s. Then, after having played through the scenario they analyze their gameplay and present it here on the blog in 250-500 words where they have the factual history presented too.

With the help of my good colleague, Mathias, who teaches English, the students will also reflect upon this way of learning using meta-analysis, especially with the help of James Paul Gee's 13 principles of gaming. The meta-analysis provides the students with an analysis regarding their own standpoint and others' too! 

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  1. Interesting reflection. I'm in the same position as you: I'm a teacher at an international school in South Korea and I'm about to use Civ 5 in my classroom in an effort to take learning to a new level. I just stumbled across your site today as I looked for resources and research. I'm curious what tips or advice you have for someone just starting this Civ 5, game-based learning in the classroom :)

    1. Hi Mathew,

      Thank you for showing interest in our work. You are welcome to contact me on tomas@mediagymnasiet.se, we could use google hangout and talk about your ideas. I would be happy to do so.

      Best wishes,
      Tomas Wahlberg