The Normalized Child

In Video Games & Learning, Kurt Squire quotes The Absorbant Mind from Maria Montessori written in 1949:

“Normalized” children, aided by their environment, show in their subsequent development those wonderful powers that we describe: spontaneous discipline, continuous and happy work, social sentiments of help and sympathy for others…. An interesting piece of work, freely chosen, which has the virtue of inducing concentration rather than fatigue, adds to the child’s energies and mental capacities, and leads him to self-mastery….One is tempted to say that the children are performing spiritual exercises having found the path of self-perfectionism and of ascent to the inner heights of the soul.

Instead of normalizing test scores so that we have a nice bell-shaped curve, wouldn’t it be prudent if we devoted our energies into promoting what Montessori describes as “normalization?” ie. Enabling students to develop a,

“Love of work that includes the ability to chose work freely and to find serenity and joy in that work.” (The Absorbent Mind, pg.202)

This is what the ‘back to basics’ movement should be all about – awakening students interest and curiosity and empowering them to pursue this interest, thus igniting a passion for learning.

Video Games and Learning: Teaching and Participatory Culture in a Digital Age, is a strong argument for the question “Why Games?” and is littered with case studies that show how games can be used for learning. Squire has an obvious interest in strategy games such as Civilization and uses this to frame his arguments.

Highly recommended. 

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