There’s a reason why the brain uses 25% of the calories you eat: Thinking is hard work. Subjects like math and science — the ones only “smart” kids do well in — demand that you find patterns, unravel clues, connect one dot to another, and scaffold knowledge learned in prior lessons. Worse, you’re either right or wrong with no gray areas.
Wait. Where have we heard those characteristics before? In games! Do these descriptions sound familiar (ask your game-playing students)?
Take the helm of your own country and work together with others to solve international problems!
Manage your city so it’s energy efficient and sustainable.
Solve a mysterious outbreak in a distant tropical jungle and save the scientists.
All torn straight from the taglines of popular games. Kids love playing games, leveling up, and finding the keys required to win. They choose the deep concentration and trial-and-error of gameplay over many other activities because figuring out how to win is exciting. So why the disconnect among teachers and parents when applying gameplay to learning?
Surprisingly, all you need is one simple mindshift to do this: Create a classroom environment where thinking isn’t considered work. Don’t say science and math are hard. Don’t jump in to solve problems. Let students thrill with the excitement of finding their own solutions. The great thinkers of our time understand that everyone is capable of finding solutions:
“Failure isn’t falling down; it’s not getting up.” — Mary Pickford
“No problem can withstand the assault of sustained thinking.” — Voltaire
“Life is a crisis. So what?” — Malcom Bradbury
I’ve discussed problem-solving before (see How to Teach Students to Solve Problems). Today, I want to share five favorite websites that turn the deep-thinking required for solving problems into fun: