We play games every day, and it is a wonder how closely our imagined games mimic the games in the minds of the people around us.
All knowledge is an experience in interpretation.
Forget careers. Figure out what you love doing, then pick a college. Careers can wait; you’ll be happier learning what you love.
We’re doing it wrong
I have been spending a lot of time as of late thinking about the connections between students, careers, and college. Many of the education technology solutions out there right now take one of two routes:
- Tell students that they need to go to college and focus on getting them in to college;
- Tell students that they need to pick a career and then work toward that career.
Take, for example, a recent tweet by a random high-schooler, @alisucks.
literally sitting on my computer on naviance searching possible careers to find out what college i should go to
This is, traditionally, how schools, counselors, parents, and ed tech companies approach the question of “what’s next.” And it doesn’t work.
High school cannot be thought of as independent from college or career. Neither can college or career be treated as individual silos with little to no connection between them. Students, educators, and service providers are not connecting the dots for students in a way they can understand.
Who in their right mind thought that this video would help get women interested in the sciences? As the description states, “This is kind of like putting a croissant next to a circuit board in an attempt to get more French people into electrical engineering.”
When people look to flashy lights and stereotypes instead of to proven methods of engagement like gamification I can’t help but…
Let’s guide students to live more interesting lives
My favorite fiction author is Neal Stephenson. And while I have enjoyed almost every book he has ever written, one stands out as my hands-down favorite: The Diamond Age, or A Young Lady’s Illustrated Primer.
It is science fiction in the vein of a Dickensian novel, following the life of a street urchin, Nell, who is taken under the wing of various members of the upper crust of society. Nell is also one of three girls, all of different backgrounds and upbringings, who is given a book, the titular Young Lady’s Illustrated Primer. This book, built with nanotechnology, is an interactive and adaptive learning system: the platonic ideal of an individual learning plan and comprehensive curriculum.
The Primer, even in an age of advanced technology, is cutting-edge. More importantly, it was commissioned with a specific goal in mind: intellectually steer its reader toward living a more interesting life.
A more interesting life.
This always stands out to me when I reread The Diamond Age. The thought comes from a grandfather who has seen his own children reach adulthood as well-adjusted and successful individuals, but lacking that je ne sais quoi that separates the good from the great.