The boy who knew too much: a child prodigy

This is the true story of scientific child prodigy, and former baby genius, Ainan Celeste Cawley, written by his father. It is the true story, too, of his gifted brothers and of all the Cawley family. I write also of child prodigy and genius in general: what it is, and how it is so often neglected in the modern world. As a society, we so often fail those we should most hope to see succeed: our gifted children and the gifted adults they become. Site Copyright: Valentine Cawley, 2006 +

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Are online games educational?

You may wonder at the title to this post, but it is not written out of whim. Yesterday, in the Today newspaper, in Singapore, the front page detailed a plan by two Singaporean schools to bring online gaming into the curriculum. The schools in question seemed proud to be the first known schools worldwide to be making gaming part of the standard curriculum. The question, that comes to mind, of course, is why are they doing this?

The answer lies in the game they have chosen. It is a role-playing game - that is one in which you adopt a character and play a role in an imaginary world. This particular game has yet to begin, but is set in the 17th century and involves a lot of problem solving. The schools believe that the game world will allow them to teach many different things in a fun way. There is also the fact that thinking skills could develop through the problem solving aspects of the game.

I have one clear thought on this: I am glad that it is not my son's school that is introducing this initiative. Yes, a game can teach students something in an enjoyable way - but are those lessons worth the very real risk that the child will become too absorbed in the game, at the great cost of losing interest in school and perhaps all else? These games are so "life-like", so well put together that they can become all-consuming interests. I fear that, in the interests of being trendy, this school could lose the attention of their students - permanently.

It should be noted that the schools have chosen a game carefully on the basis of what they think is its educational content. The game involves decision-making and thinking on the part of the students - but it remains a game, and as such, could act as a seduction into a world of many other games, in which it is easy for a child to lose sight of more important matters.

The game in question is not a first person shooter, in which nothing is done but kill computer-generated monsters. This latter type of game has been shown to improve co-ordination and response times of those who play them, to rapidly changing situations. Perhaps that could be seen as a useful lesson, though very expensive in terms of time needed to develop the skill.

This initiative is, no doubt, part of a perceived need to make lessons relevant to the students - to reach them in a way that they would perceive as interesting. There is a danger in taking this too far, however - for I feel the most likely lesson that the children at these particular schools will take away with them, is that online games are a lot more fun than why not play more online games, at the expense of school? Ultimately, their "education" will become an education in how to spend their leisure time.

Perhaps there are other places in the world where games are part of a formal education. If so, please tell us of your experiences. If not, perhaps you have some thoughts on the value of gaming as part of an education...if so, post them.

(If you would like to read about Ainan Celeste Cawley, my scientific child prodigy son, aged seven years and one month, please go to: I also write of education, child prodigy, child genius, adult genius, savant, the creatively gifted, gifted children and gifted adults in general. Thanks.)

Labels: ,

AddThis Social Bookmark Button
posted by Valentine Cawley @ 9:18 PM 


Post a Comment

<< Home

Page copy protected against web site content infringement by Copyscape