"We need to talk," the principal tells me.
"Mind if I shut the door?" I ask.
"I do. I have an open door policy to keep up."
"Oh." We sit down at a table and I pull out a hoarhound from his candy dish.
"I see you were playing games today instead of teaching."
"It was an advanced simulation."
"It was a game."
"But not like Tic-Tac-Toe or Dots. This one involved a mock factory, where they were making their pictures and . . ."
"So they were drawing?"
"They were reading as well. They had to read various scenarios and describe their solutions in a text. It was real interactive and the kids were engaged and . . ."
"Do you remember what I said after the Hang Man Fiasco of 1895?"
"No games, period."
He raises an eyebrow at me. I gulp hard and almost swallow my hoarhound.
"Yes, but this wasn't violent. How could a parent possibly complain?"
"It's about learning, Tom. I know you're trying to connect it to learning, but frankly it's a stretch," the principal tells me.
"Well, soldiers play games. Surgeons do simulations. It's part of their education."
"Yes, but this isn't war and this isn't a hospital. If we want students to pass the rote memorization test, we need to focus on rote memorization skills. Were you sleeping during our professional development lead by the Drill and Skill Consulting Group?"
"I was paying attention," I lie. The truth is that I was paying attention, but only to the words. I wasn't about to let Mr. Brown win another week of Buzzword Bingo.
"If you want to abandon slate-based learning, at least try the Jonestown Intervention worksheets. Or maybe fill out the packets of algorithms."
My solution: we'll create an algorithm factory and integrate it into our Conflict-Oriented Reading and Writing Project (a.k.a. The Factory Game).