Tuesday, October 07, 2008
Homeschooling with World of Warcraft
Actually, it's called "unschooling," but not many people know what the term means: basically, homeschooling "without the trappings of formal education," LiveScience.com reports, such as textbooks or even traditional subjects covered separately. Subjects that are covered unconventionally, e.g., in World of Warcraft, are "math, reading, sociology, economics, creative writing and communications." Unschoolers such as a mom mentioned in the LiveScience article, Jill Parmer, teach by learning about and fostering the interests of their children. One of Jill's kids' interests is World of Warcraft, so she plays the 10 million+-member game with them and "helps lead a group of homeschool kids and parents in a WoW guild called 'Horde of Unschoolers'." She has watched her 10-year-old "make his own learning connections between WoW and other areas in life," according to LiveScience. "One day he became interested in the mathematical concept of exponential increases after his WoW character encountered a disease cloud." University of Wisconsin researcher Constance Steinkuehler told LiveScience she has seen 8th- and 9th-graders playing WoW go from "barely stringing together two sentences to writing lengthy posts in their group's Web site forum, where they discuss detailed strategies for gearing up their virtual characters and figuring out tough quests." She gets a lot of surprised looks, even from players, when she tells them that "85% of the conversations [in the official WoW forum] showed that players had decent levels of scientific literacy. Players used reasoned arguments, backed up hypotheses and even brought statistics to bear on issues that they faced near the higher levels of the game."