Progress Report

Education

Game Design with Will Wright

Another great talk by game designer Will Wright. Highly recommended. Almost 2 hours long!

And another talk about augmented reality!

More Will Wright talks here.


Will Wright explains it ALL

Will Wright, the game designer behind The Sims and Spore, explains EVERYTHING. Enjoy!

And another fascinating talk about generative art by composer Brian Eno and Will Wright:

http://fora.tv/2006/06/26/Will_Wright_and_Brian_Eno

Many of the ideas here are directly in line with my latest mode of thinking about approaching works of Art (or any complex project). I especially like the idea of imagination as mental simulation of possible outcomes. And I love the idea that both games and narrative are related in that they’re both activities which require the user to build mental models. One theory is that imagination evolved so that humans could solve problems.  In fact, isn’t it a tremendous capacity for imagination that sets us apart from animals? (Of course imagination can be used for good or evil–humans have always been imaginative in finding new ways to kill each other.) Basically these ideas are really clicking for me, where for the first time in my life EVERYTHING makes perfect sense.


James Rolfe Cinemassacre 200

James Rolfe, the man behind the Angry Video Game Nerd, has made a retrospective documentary of his childhood as a filmmaker—Cinemassacre 200. This video has been a huge inspiration to me! First, it makes me nostalgic because I’ve made a couple of films in high school using the same backass methods he describes. Second, James Rolfe is the prime example of how creative children can be and how good they are at solving REAL problems. James was not homeschooled, but if he was, it would prove my point about the uselessness of compulsory education even more. This is the childhood I wish I had had and the childhood I wish for my children to have. Enjoy!

http://www.cinemassacre.com/new/?p=181


Against Education

I don’t have many political views. But there is one thing I feel very strongly about–that Education is the biggest waste of time ever invented by man. This is coming from a man who has spent the majority of his life in the Education system, both as student and teacher. I can see now that I might as well have spent all those years in prison.

Let me give you an example. In high school and in college I’ve taken at least 3 different photography courses. As I was taking these courses I genuinely believed that I was learning how to take better pictures. After I graduated, I didn’t pursue photography as a career. Then, years later, I got the flu and had to stay home from work for 3 days. Around this time, I became extremely interested in photography again and decided to relearn it. After reading everything I could about photography in books and online for 3 days, I realized this: I’ve learned more about photography in 3 days on my own than in those 3 photography courses put together. I’ve learned things, basic things, like the relationship of photographic variables like shutter speed to photographic effects like motion blur. In other words, I learned how important technical details can be used to control  the resulting image. So what did I learn in the 3 photography courses I took? Nothing useful. I was told to “go out there and take some cool pictures”. Granted, I learned how to develop pictures in a darkroom, a practice which was already becoming obsolete when I was going to school.

I failed Algebra in high school. Twice. Some of you know the kind of math I’m capable of today, no thanks to my math education in school. Only having mostly overcome my math difficulties, can I see the utter uselessness of those high school subjects to real world math.

I also have stories from my teaching days. Although I only taught for a year and a half, I gathered one basic fact about the University system–it’s all about money. It is not about learning, discovering, or growing. It’s a business which is mostly about taking students’ money and getting them out the door as quickly as possible. There is only one good thing I found about Universities and that is their excellent libraries and computer labs. That’s where I did most of my learning.

So Gretta and I aren’t going to make the same mistake twice. We’re planning to either find “alternative schools” for our children or keep them out of school altogether. We’re planning to let our children determine their own curriculum, based on their own interests, instead of imposing a “standard” curriculum. I’m hoping programming, especially game programming, will play a role in their learning, since programming is one of the most creative activities on the planet.

If you agree that traditional school is a waste of time, here is some further reading:

http://www.changethis.com/47.02.TurningLearning/download — Start here with this excellent article by Russel Ackoff, one of the pioneers of Systems Thinking, describing the current state of the Education system and what can be done to change it.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unschooling — Based on the writings of John Holt, Unschooling is a homeschooling variant which allows the child to guide their own learning, with the parent acting as enabler.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alternative_education — List of alternative schools around the world.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Autodidacticism — List of famous self-taught individuals. Check it out!