Teacher Develops Game To Make History Interesting

| 25 Feb 2012 01:20
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How do you make the Revolutionary War cool for high schoolers? Develop a game about the subject and then make your students play it.

History is often pretty dry stuff - I would know, since I majored in that subject the first time through college. It's particularly dull in high school, when there's not a lot of topic flexibility. So New Jersey teacher David Allocco decided to make the topic of the Revolutionary War a little more accessible by creating an original videogame that puts players in the middle of the conflict.

The game, Choosing Sides: The American Revolution in Bergen County , casts players as Hackensack resident John Van Dunk, and follows them as they guide him through the war. It sounds like this is an open-path adventure game, since Van Dunk talks to other people in Bergen County and has to decide whether or not he'll be a British Loyalist or an American Revolutionary. Along the way, players meet and interact with real historical figures.

Allocco's students would spend two days playing the game and were graded on a journal they maintained, explaining why they made their decisions. According to the teacher, he was surprised by how many of the teens decided to side with the British. However, the decision makes sense: Many Redcoats were based out of New York and often conducted raids into the nearby areas in New Jersey, and the students operated as loyalists out of a desire to simply survive.

Choosing Sides sounds like a great way to make history interesting for students, and it also doesn't sound like Allocco is finished making educational videogames. The man has stated that he wants to create more games that put students in "key moments" of American history.

Source: Paramus Patch via GamePolitics

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immortalfrieza:

Commissar Sae:

immortalfrieza:

That's probably only true because we teach kids that way and always have. I would never agree that kids are less capable or need a longer length of time than an adult to learn something.
A child's brain is no less capable at learning something than an adult's, they just have less information in their brains to begin with, in short, they lack context.

I can't argue that my teachers were boring, I like history when it's presented to me in an interesting format, thus it's no surprise I like the History channel. Really though, that's because the History channel producers are paid to make history interesting, teachers, not so much. Teachers get paid to ramble off facts all day, over and over again, and they get paid regardless of whether kids learn them. Is it any wonder why they would not be motivated to make things interesting?

As a teacher I find that kind of insulting. I'm passionate about history, and I put that passion into my class. I'm paid to make sure that my students learn the material, and the best way to do that is to make it interesting to them. There needs to be some scaffolding using facts for the students to learn and thats what every single class in compulsory education is trying to do.
Advanced math is going to be next to useless to you later on, hell I can't name a single subject that I can guarantee will be relevant to the lives of students. But thats not the point of education, deep down. the goal isn't to make things relevant to the students daily lives in a direct way but to help them create links in their head so they can think critically about the world and not be mindless sheep.

YOU may care enough about the actual education of your students to make sure that they learn what they are being taught, but in my experience you're a rarity, and I doubt you'll stay that way forever or even very long anyway. I went to some perfectly good schools and I've had more teachers than I can count that have told the entire class, usually at the beginning of the year, something to the effect of "I don't care if you don't pay attention, fall asleep in class, whatever. I get paid regardless of if you students learn anything or not."

I can't say I blame them either, considering most of the students that I shared the classroom with screw around regardless. That, and having to teach the same things over and over and over... it's all but impossible for anyone to maintain their enthusiasm for any real length of time under those circumstances. I was probably one of the few kids that DIDN'T screw around and actually listened, even though it bored the hell out of me.

Then I'm sorry to say you had some pretty crappy teachers. As for maintaining enthusiasm I'm working with a teacher right now who is maybe 65, but is probably more enthusiastic than I am. According to him the trick is not to let yourself get bogged down teaching the same class every year in the same way. Something I plan to do in the future.

Also a teachers pay is pretty low compared to a lot of other jobs I could be doing. Someone going in to teaching for easy money is pretty much guaranteed to suck at their job.

Commissar Sae:

immortalfrieza:

That's probably only true because we teach kids that way and always have. I would never agree that kids are less capable or need a longer length of time than an adult to learn something.
A child's brain is no less capable at learning something than an adult's, they just have less information in their brains to begin with, in short, they lack context.

I can't argue that my teachers were boring, I like history when it's presented to me in an interesting format, thus it's no surprise I like the History channel. Really though, that's because the History channel producers are paid to make history interesting, teachers, not so much. Teachers get paid to ramble off facts all day, over and over again, and they get paid regardless of whether kids learn them. Is it any wonder why they would not be motivated to make things interesting?

As a teacher I find that kind of insulting. I'm passionate about history, and I put that passion into my class. I'm paid to make sure that my students learn the material, and the best way to do that is to make it interesting to them. There needs to be some scaffolding using facts for the students to learn and thats what every single class in compulsory education is trying to do.
Advanced math is going to be next to useless to you later on, hell I can't name a single subject that I can guarantee will be relevant to the lives of students. But thats not the point of education, deep down. the goal isn't to make things relevant to the students daily lives in a direct way but to help them create links in their head so they can think critically about the world and not be mindless sheep.

YOU may care enough about the actual education of your students to make sure that they learn what they are being taught, but in my experience you're a rarity, and I doubt you'll stay that way forever or even very long anyway. I went to some perfectly good schools and I've had more teachers than I can count that have told the entire class, usually at the beginning of the year, something to the effect of "I don't care if you don't pay attention, fall asleep in class, whatever. I get paid regardless of if you students learn anything or not."

I can't say I blame them either, considering most of the students that I shared the classroom with screw around regardless. That, and having to teach the same things over and over and over... it's all but impossible for anyone to maintain their enthusiasm for any real length of time under those circumstances. I was probably one of the few kids that DIDN'T screw around and actually listened, even though it bored the hell out of me.

kiwi_poo:
What? History isn't bor-

Oh, right. You guy only get American history.

Shame. It's very monotonous. Just war after war. And there's barely any of it.

Anyway, I suppose that could be an okay idea. As long as EA and the likes don't get their hands on it, that is.

You could describe the history of the world as just "war after war" if you're looking at it the way you do. I don't remember what the number is, but there has been a ridiculously low number of years of total world peace. The thing is, there is other stuff to learn about, beyond the wars. In addition, when looking at a small area, like one country, there are significant periods of peace between wars to learn about.

immortalfrieza:

Commissar Sae:

immortalfrieza:

True, but I'd much rather sit through a year doing those boring as hell classes than 13 years doing a just about as boring as hell classes that give me the runaround to teach me the same thing.

Problem is that its not something you just learn like that, it needs to be develloped in increments over those 13 or so years. It needs to be learned in steps over a long period of time, otherwise a childs brain won't be able to adapt to the information without the necessary scaffolding.

Plus if you find history boring then its really because you had crappy teachers. A motivated teacher who knows what they're talking about can do wonders for the subject.

That's probably only true because we teach kids that way and always have. I would never agree that kids are less capable or need a longer length of time than an adult to learn something.
A child's brain is no less capable at learning something than an adult's, they just have less information in their brains to begin with, in short, they lack context.

I can't argue that my teachers were boring, I like history when it's presented to me in an interesting format, thus it's no surprise I like the History channel. Really though, that's because the History channel producers are paid to make history interesting, teachers, not so much. Teachers get paid to ramble off facts all day, over and over again, and they get paid regardless of whether kids learn them. Is it any wonder why they would not be motivated to make things interesting?

As a teacher I find that kind of insulting. I'm passionate about history, and I put that passion into my class. I'm paid to make sure that my students learn the material, and the best way to do that is to make it interesting to them. There needs to be some scaffolding using facts for the students to learn and thats what every single class in compulsory education is trying to do.
Advanced math is going to be next to useless to you later on, hell I can't name a single subject that I can guarantee will be relevant to the lives of students. But thats not the point of education, deep down. the goal isn't to make things relevant to the students daily lives in a direct way but to help them create links in their head so they can think critically about the world and not be mindless sheep.

Commissar Sae:

immortalfrieza:

True, but I'd much rather sit through a year doing those boring as hell classes than 13 years doing a just about as boring as hell classes that give me the runaround to teach me the same thing.

Problem is that its not something you just learn like that, it needs to be develloped in increments over those 13 or so years. It needs to be learned in steps over a long period of time, otherwise a childs brain won't be able to adapt to the information without the necessary scaffolding.

Plus if you find history boring then its really because you had crappy teachers. A motivated teacher who knows what they're talking about can do wonders for the subject.

That's probably only true because we teach kids that way and always have. I would never agree that kids are less capable or need a longer length of time than an adult to learn something.
A child's brain is no less capable at learning something than an adult's, they just have less information in their brains to begin with, in short, they lack context.

I can't argue that my teachers were boring, I like history when it's presented to me in an interesting format, thus it's no surprise I like the History channel. Really though, that's because the History channel producers are paid to make history interesting, teachers, not so much. Teachers get paid to ramble off facts all day, over and over again, and they get paid regardless of whether kids learn them. Is it any wonder why they would not be motivated to make things interesting?

immortalfrieza:

Commissar Sae:

immortalfrieza:

If so, why not just cut out the middleman and have a class that teaches people how to do the above specifically?

Because teaching research methods and points of view is even dryer than history. Can you imagine sitting through a year of classes that are basically only telling you how to make a bibliography, or how to read an article and find the salient information. Hell even teaching that class would be boring as hell.

True, but I'd much rather sit through a year doing those boring as hell classes than 13 years doing a just about as boring as hell classes that give me the runaround to teach me the same thing.

Problem is that its not something you just learn like that, it needs to be develloped in increments over those 13 or so years. It needs to be learned in steps over a long period of time, otherwise a childs brain won't be able to adapt to the information without the necessary scaffolding.

Plus if you find history boring then its really because you had crappy teachers. A motivated teacher who knows what they're talking about can do wonders for the subject.

Commissar Sae:

immortalfrieza:

Commissar Sae:

General knowledge is fairly important to most jobs. Most history classes actually have a hidden importance. They teach you how to do research and develop your ability to think in different ways. So is knowing why the American revolution was fought particularly relevant, no. Is understanding how to look at various events and seeing different variables beyond the obvious useful, of course.

If so, why not just cut out the middleman and have a class that teaches people how to do the above specifically?

Because teaching research methods and points of view is even dryer than history. Can you imagine sitting through a year of classes that are basically only telling you how to make a bibliography, or how to read an article and find the salient information. Hell even teaching that class would be boring as hell.

True, but I'd much rather sit through a year doing those boring as hell classes than 13 years doing a just about as boring as hell classes that give me the runaround to teach me the same thing.

Guffe:

Jamous:
That actually sounds really interesting. It's good that the teacher's doing something to keep the students engaged.

Guffe:

I don't think it needs to be made any more interesting either.

I don't know about America but in Finland 90% of the students love history.
I don't know if it's about the fact that USA is such a big country and has been involved in most things happening and therefor they only talk about the stuff they've been doing. But here our History since grade 3 (age 10) is about the world and only small portions about our own country so history here is REALLY wide.

History doesn't need to be made more interesting, but the way it's taught does. Some teachers are -really- bad at teaching.

yeah but that applies to everything and not just history.
Althou it's always painful when you have a bad teacher in something that might be interesting if done correctly.

Yeah, I know how that feels. :/
Not fun at all.

As upstanding British citizen I'd love a chance to put the silly colonists back in their rightful place. UNDER MY WELL POLISHED BOOT.

All joking aside, this actually sounds pretty cool. It's not something we cover in the UK curriculum and it'd be interesting to learn about.

immortalfrieza:

Commissar Sae:

General knowledge is fairly important to most jobs. Most history classes actually have a hidden importance. They teach you how to do research and develop your ability to think in different ways. So is knowing why the American revolution was fought particularly relevant, no. Is understanding how to look at various events and seeing different variables beyond the obvious useful, of course.

If so, why not just cut out the middleman and have a class that teaches people how to do the above specifically?

Because teaching research methods and points of view is even dryer than history. Can you imagine sitting through a year of classes that are basically only telling you how to make a bibliography, or how to read an article and find the salient information. Hell even teaching that class would be boring as hell.

Jamous:
That actually sounds really interesting. It's good that the teacher's doing something to keep the students engaged.

Guffe:

Waaghpowa:
History needed to be more interesting than it is now? Boy do I sound like a nerd...

I don't think it needs to be made any more interesting either.

I don't know about America but in Finland 90% of the students love history.
I don't know if it's about the fact that USA is such a big country and has been involved in most things happening and therefor they only talk about the stuff they've been doing. But here our History since grade 3 (age 10) is about the world and only small portions about our own country so history here is REALLY wide.

History doesn't need to be made more interesting, but the way it's taught does. Some teachers are -really- bad at teaching.

yeah but that applies to everything and not just history.
Althou it's always painful when you have a bad teacher in something that might be interesting if done correctly.

last time we saw something like this it was History -- Civil War: Secret Missions and it was awful.

Smiley Face:

I'm sort of curious - how much do you folks from the US learn about Native history? I'm Canadian, and the curriculum o far has thrown a lot at me.

We learn a decent amount on Manifest Destiny and various conflicts the natives had with the US.

If you're wondering about US schooling whitewashing our history though, what we mostly don't learn is the US occupation of Cuba and the Philippines, the US involvement in the Panama revolution, the crappy stuff the US agreed to in the Yalta Conference, and newer Cold War stuff in Iran, Nicaragua, etc. But we do learn about the natives.

This game taught me more about medieval history than any book or teacher. At least til I went to college. Seriously, the people who did this game read their history.
image

uzo:
I have two words for you all.

Oregon Trail.

Hell, I'm not even American and I still love that game and the history of the whole Manifest Destiny, westward-ho kinda thing. It sounds incredibly adventurous and, despite the dangers and the hardship, it is the kind of thing I would attempt were I alive at such a time.

Imagine it - travelling a looooong road, through barely known lands, past treacherous rivers and perilous mountain passes. At the end, the opportunity to stake a claim in a new world; to provide for your family and your descendants. To, essentially, establish a new country.

Doesn't help that I'm a nutjob survivalist who makes and eats his own hardtack because I like it.

A few states actually WERE their own countries at one point in time (They don't call it the Californian Republic for nothing).

Although I find Early Colonial America to be interesting as well (as long as you got to head to a proper Colony with semi-competent leadership) You'd have a village surrounded by untamed and unknown wilds. With Natives lurking in the woods that could become great friends or terrible enemies. You'd live a life full of labor, but at the end of the day you got to retire to a small, yet cozy, home with your family and children and sleep under the real stars untainted by light pollution.

Then again, that's my own romanticized version of events, we've got things pretty easy over here.

I love that he's found a new way to get students interested in history.

I'm a huge history buff here, I absolutely love learning about the past (Mostly the Glorious Roman Empire, although I've slowly become fascinated with the Middle East's history as well) It's a shame the only History related game I've played is Oregon Trail.

gphjr14:

uzo:
I have two words for you all.

Oregon Trail.

Hell, I'm not even American and I still love that game and the history of the whole Manifest Destiny, westward-ho kinda thing. It sounds incredibly adventurous and, despite the dangers and the hardship, it is the kind of thing I would attempt were I alive at such a time.

Imagine it - travelling a looooong road, through barely known lands, past treacherous rivers and perilous mountain passes. At the end, the opportunity to stake a claim in a new world; to provide for your family and your descendants. To, essentially, establish a new country.

Doesn't help that I'm a nutjob survivalist who makes and eats his own hardtack because I like it.

You forgot to mention the forced removal of Native Americans. No offence but it sounds like you've been fed a sugar coated romanticized version of US history. Westward expansion was made possible through forced migration and good ol ethnic cleansing.

Oh yeah. American Independence was NOT a good thing for the various Native peoples. The US got to throw out the big territorial line they weren't, as British subjects, supposed to cross in their colonization efforts, and kill their merry way to a brighter future, not to mention disregarding Native rights, etc. Not that the French or the British weren't bad, but the Americans were worse.

That's one of the things I love about history. Pretty much every party did vicious, unspeakable, and interesting things, and centuries later people are proud of them. And they have such lovely names for everything. 'The First Defenestration of Prague' sounds so technical, you wouldn't think that it refers to that one time that diplomats were thrown out of a window and only survived by landing in a dung heap. AND YET THEY HAVE A NAME FOR IT.

I'm sort of curious - how much do you folks from the US learn about Native history? I'm Canadian, and the curriculum o far has thrown a lot at me.

We need more ways to get truth and knowledge to our children's generation, so they aren't raised on the lies and ignorance of our parent's generation. *Eyes Heartland Institute* Right?

Commissar Sae:

General knowledge is fairly important to most jobs. Most history classes actually have a hidden importance. They teach you how to do research and develop your ability to think in different ways. So is knowing why the American revolution was fought particularly relevant, no. Is understanding how to look at various events and seeing different variables beyond the obvious useful, of course.

If so, why not just cut out the middleman and have a class that teaches people how to do the above specifically?

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