School’s a gloomy place, full of arbitrary tests and crap school dinners. Or at least it was for me, though that is going quite far back. But that could be set to change for some kids in London in 2016.
Games Workshop co-founder and Eidos CEO Ian Livingston has applied to launch a free school in London that will use gaming and problem solving to teach children instead of “relentless testing”.
Chatting with the BBC, Livingstone explained that he wanted to apply the principles of interactivity that’s found in gaming to education, just as he did for reading with the interactive Fighting Fantasy books, starting in the ‘80s with The Warlock of Firetop Mountain.
The school would not throw out the traditional curriculum entirely, though. “Of course, you have to have a broad and balanced curriculum and make sure there's rigour in all subjects,” Livingstone said. “But it's using a discipline like computer science to have hopefully a deeper understanding of the subjects that you're learning.”
For years, there’s been an ongoing debate about the test-heavy model employed by schools, and Livingstone is very critical of the model, believing that it’s more about assessing the schools than the individual children who are there to learn. There’s too much of a focus on conformity, he said, instead of diversity.
Livingstone also touches on failure, and the pressure the current system puts on students, while games often frame failure as part and parcel of the learning experience.
"You're allowed to fail. Games-based learning allows you to fail in a safe environment."