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Educating Yourself

Or:

How Everyone’s A Massive Geek And Probably Doesn’t Know It

I’m sitting here chain-watching a lot of Extra Credits videos. If you don’t know, they’re animated, educational mini-lectures on the subject of games design, games industry, and the socio-economic impact of games. It’s an elegant series, and while many of the lessons are things I’ve considered and discussed from a less educated perspective in DMing 101 I have learnt vast amounts and have had new avenues of thought opened to me as I design a new campaign that I’m starting this year (a serious attempt at a tabletop sandbox) and it’s deeply gratifying to find an intelligent and edifying thing available in a rapid-delivery format on a subject that I love and feel passionate about to want to dissect in detail.

They highlighted the ways, means, and benefits of using games to educate because we learn better when we’re enjoying ourselves doing it. It’s a fact that when we have a passion for something we immerse ourselves in it, taking in knowledge either actively through study, research and practice, or passively through observation and assimilation.

We typically regard people interested primarily in sports as non-geeky (not to say that geeks can’t like sports of course) but if you’ve ever found yourself listening to them converse you’ll hear names, statistics, long and elaborate histories that simply fly past us as we dismiss it as “sports talk”. Not for us, not for gamers, not for the kid who was shown very early on that sports were for the cool kids. And yet here are people as madly passionate and involved as we are in our geeky obsessions.

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We all learn differently, and we all relate to different things dependent on our personality, our upbringing, and what our environment subjects us to, and that’s something our standardised education system will never be able to cater to (and arguably shouldn’t*), and most of the useful education we’ll get in life is… exactly that: in life. Living our lives is the best way to educate ourselves and immersing ourselves in those things that we will find make us more productive, or generally happier, and the form-fill box-tick method of educating children ill-prepares us for this.

It’s important that we should never stop learning, and recognising opportunities to learn, and it doesn’t matter if what we’re learning is the lore of Tamriel, military history of Asia, or the artistic aspects of graffiti. What we are doing is keeping up the ability to learn, keeping our minds alive and open to the idea of new concepts and methods, and that lets us keep our intellect – our most distinctive feature – keen and active well into our old age.

We should also embrace those things that we enjoy as thoroughly as we can, as they are formative in creating us as people, while not shying away from new experiences and those with differing opinions. I will never understand sports, plants, or be able to memorise Japanese or Japanese styled names, but I readily engage in conversation with those who love all of the above in order to witness how their obsession differs from mine, or doesn’t. Being open to learn makes us better and well rounded people, this is just a fact, and encouraging others to do so will mean that the people around you will be just as interesting as you are, and that will make you even more interesting than they are!

You can win at being interesting!

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How do you encourage other people to be more interesting? Not by making them more interesting to you (that makes you a bad person), but by encouraging them to pursue those things that they love, and facilitating that activity. Presumably you share some common ground with this person, so share something with them that they might not know, like a book on the subject or some facet that they may never have considered or discovered on their own. Once you’ve started that mental train chugging then your friend will not only be dragged along by that momentum, but they’ll take you with them by reciprocating.


*Why do I say that we should not cater education entirely towards the specific child? The sad fact is we’d better off as rats than orangutans, here’s why:


Sandy
Rats
can eat anything and survive and thrive in any environment, from the freezing cold to the blistering heat. Demanding that children learn maths, english, science, and history will create adults who can implement logic, analysis, observation and basic knowledge. These are necessary skills that we must all possess in order to function in any working environment.

Fish-out-of-Water-chicken-little-23921083-300-400Orangutans are particularly well adapted to living in the rainforest, well camouflaged, specifically built and restricted by dietary needs. In a field of pumpkins, an Orangutan would be killed. The same can be said of that one kid who retains information best when it’s presented to him in a colour coded infographic. That child will learn well, and learn fast, and emerge, completely unable to cope with the grey, graphic-less world that was always waiting for him.

I hate to go evolutionary on the matter of education, and we really do need an overhaul to cater for specific learning methods, but there are basics that everyone desperately needs to function in society.

3 responses

  1. True, but there at least should be some way to transform into a rat even when we start as orangutans (ok, this does sound weird)… once we find something we really enjoy & want to learn more about that should help us feel the need to learn the grey things we didnt like before :-)

    Like

    December 23, 2015 at 2:12 am

    • First of all, I love the term “grey things”, and yes you can absolutely use your passions to drive study into necessary subjects, but I didn’t discover what my real passion was until I was 19 and for many it takes even longer.
      I think what is needed is catering for learning styles rather than a focus on individual likes and dislikes. No rats or orangutans, but camels or dogs (this metaphor is getting out of hand), that are suited to one style of survival that can work moderately under new conditions

      Like

      December 23, 2015 at 9:24 am

  2. Pingback: Re-Introductions Required | GeekOut South-West

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