"I'm thinking of quitting the Pen Pal networks, Paul."
"I think it's a mistake. It's imperfect, I understand. But you're imperfect. Hell, sometimes your verb tense is imperfect, do you abandon that?"
"It's just that it's become a place of games. Join my Agribusiness. Engage in organized crime with me. Tell me where you are and we'll play four square together. I joined the Pen Pal networks to engage in a conversation about learning."
"Do you want to know the people your so-called PLN?"
"On some level, yes."
"Then you have to play. Think about it for a moment. In your neighborhood, do children meet together and sip tea or do they play first?"
"Why is that?"
"It could be emotional immaturity. Or it could be that they learn something from each other. Maybe cooperation. Maybe decision-making. Maybe it's what helps them clarify roles."
"Exactly. So consider this: what if games are a natural phenomenon? What if they are a part of how we train for life? And what if adults still need some training? And what if it is a part of how we get to know each other? Wouldn't that deeply human process be a part of a Pen Pal network?"
"Games just seem shallow."
"So, sit out and stay on the sidelines. Enjoy your philosophical interaction. But don't get elitist about games. There's a depth to them that you miss when you dismiss it all as shallow."
For what it's worth, I have no intention of joining a make-believe mafia or a pretend agribusiness. Still, it has me thinking about my class. It has me wondering whether there is educational value in using games in the classroom. Don't get me wrong, I don't want to use another Word Search or Tic Tac Toe. Both are pencil-based, but based only on rote skill review. But I'm wondering if there is a value in playing pretend, interacting with one another and using a pencil-based game in learning.
So, PLN, I'm curious about your take on games in the classroom. What games do you use in the classroom? What games allow for deeper thought? Is there a danger in competition? Or can competition be a valuable tool for learning? Is there a difference between games and simulations?