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Using Video Games to Teach Children to Fail

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
– Thomas A. Edison

We’ve all probably made the connection on how important it is to fail. I recently read the book, Creativity Inc, written by Ed Catmull, and Amy Wallace. The book charts the rise of Pixar, specifically detailing their process of Creativity and success. One of the things that Ed Catmull, highlights throughout the book, is the importance in learning to ‘Fail Early, and Fail Fast’.

My boys increased interest in the iPad, has come about thanks to his discovery of Minecraft (going beyond YouTube Kids). Minecraft is a great game for Creativity, as it's sole goal is to create and make.
My boys increased interest in the iPad, has come about thanks to his discovery of Minecraft (going beyond YouTube Kids). Minecraft is a great game for Creativity, as it’s sole goal is to create and make.

As adults, I’m sure we all recognize that when we start something new, it’s probably going to take a few attempts before we get it right, particularly if the activity requires a set of skills that must be developed or learnt along the way. However, teaching this concept to a child can be difficult, particularly to the ones that are impatient and want to succeed on their first attempt. How do you explain to a five year old that they’re going to fail at first, and however upset they might become, they should keep trying (and keep failing) so that they can get better – they want to win, and WIN NOW!

See Also: Creativity Chit-Chat: A Parents Quick Guide to Creativity at Home

I’m not going to take a really deep dive into my feelings toward failure, and how students in our current system of schooling are not always given adequate opportunities to fail – neither am I going to talk too much about how we as parents, in our desire to ‘help’ our little ones along the way, often remove the opportunities for them to fail, because we want to see them constantly succeed. Instead, I’m going to talk about a mobile game called Mr. Jump.

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I think this is probably the first time that I’ve actually written about a mobile game, and that’s because I don’t find the time to play them often. However, my eldest has finally begun showing a greater interest in the iPad, and recently requested that I download Mr. Jump, after spending a day with his cousins.

Given his enthusiasm, I immediately made the purchase from the App Store, and we began playing. Oh my days – it was hard, and of course it immediately provoked annoying temper tantrums that made me want to delete the game immediately. But, then I realized that we can use video games to teach children to fail. One of the things that I noticed immediately about Mr. Jump, was that instead of losing a life after dying (failing), the screen displays the percentage of the level that the player has completed. This was fantastic, because it allowed me to show Lucas that he was making progress. As opposed to focusing on getting to the end of the level without dying, we were able to set goals, and the game assisted us with our goal setting by providing a line to indicate our best attempt. At first we just tried to get into the teens, then the twenties, and finally thirties. Each time we reached a new high I took the time to celebrate the success, and slowly the goal of our game shifted to beating our previous number, as opposed to getting to the end of the level (which is really hard!).

Mr. Jump, displays the percentage of the level completed. Allowing players to see their progress, and thus improvement.
Mr. Jump, displays the percentage of the level completed. Allowing players to see their progress, and thus improvement. It’s a minor detail that for me, has made all the difference.

In-between our attempts, we discussed the concept of failure, and I used our progress as an example to how we get better, and learn after each attempt. We even began to singing one of the verses from Zootopia after obtaining a new high number

‘Birds don’t just fly, they fall down and get up’ 

Slowly, but surely, Lucas was discovering that it’s ok to fail, so long as he picks himself back up, and tries again.

On writing this article, I find myself thinking this is an obvious thing to discover. After all, digital games are designed to give their players the opportunity to fail. It’s how players learn, and develop the necessary skills to overcome future challenges. I think this is referred to as ‘Game Flow’ within game theory classes.

Anyway, I’m going to take this experience into teaching Lucas, how to ride his bike – wish me luck on that one! If you haven’t see it, here’s the Zootopia song.

PS. The game’s great. I’ve been sneaking off to play it myself. Just got to level two yesterday!


CE_FREEMOVIEV3FREE FILM on Creativity in Education

Creativity in Education: Exploring the Imbalance, is a documentary film that explores Creativity in education. The film is available on Amazon or can be access for free by simply commenting below or subscribing here.

 

 

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Imagination is more important than knowledge

Let your child Daydream: Imagination is more important than Knowledge

Imagination is more important than knowledge.” – Albert Einstein

My co-conspirator to DadsforCreativity.com, shared an absolutely awesome New York Times article last week. This October marked 100 years since Einstein came up with the General Theory of Relativity, which is something I barely understand and will not try and explain during this post. What I found most fascinating about the story is how Einstein utilized his imagination to generate his world changing theory about our universe (for those of you not familiar with the story, Einstein imagined he was riding a beam of light through space and this experience is what led him down the path to the General Theory of Relativity).

See Also: What if your child’s Imagination could Soar!

As pointed out in the NY Times article titled The Light-Beam Rider, Einstein ‘relished what he called the Gedankenexperimente’, this was his word for experiments and thoughts that he played out in his head. While none of us will likely claim to have the mind of arguably the greatest scientist of the Twentieth Century, we might still have some type of ‘crazy’ question or theory that we Gedankenexperimente with.

At the weekend my eldest found a rainbow in our house. I can only imagine what type of thoughts and questions were shooting through his mind as he wiggled his fingers in the different rays of color.
At the weekend my eldest found a rainbow in our house. I can only imagine what type of thoughts and questions were shooting through his mind as he wiggled his fingers in the different rays of color.

One of mine first began to manifest during my car journeys to Darbyshire to see my Mom’s family. As we sped up or down the M1 at around 70MPH, I would look out the window at all the objects that zoomed past our window. I used to try and make them go slower by fixing my gaze on an object in front, such as a road sign, and then following it as we passed by. I noticed that if I concentrated hard enough I could make the object almost stop in front of my window for a brief moment, before it disappeared behind me. As I played this game a question began to emerge – what would happen if a wasp entered the car and hovered in a stationary position just above my head? Would it zoom back at the same speed as the outside objects such as the road sign, and thus smash and splatter against our back window? Or would it occupy the same space as our car? While I suspected it was the latter, this only generated more questions – what exactly takes place between the wasp hovering 1mm outside my window and zooming by at 70mph, verses being 1mm inside my window and not?

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I reckon this question might easily be answered by a 12th grade physics teacher, and embarrassingly for me, perhaps it’s common knowledge to everyone, but this is the first time I’ve ever shared this question publicly and I still do not have a solution or more importantly WHY! (Hint Hint – comment below if you know the answer!).

As we think about cultivating creative thinking skills in our children there’s two things to make note of from my question about a wasp. For some reason I’ve kept this question locked up in my head for approximately 25 years. What’s stopped me asking this question? Why didn’t I bring it up during my hundreds of science lessons at school? Why didn’t I ever ask my parents or friends?

In fact, Einstein did more than just notice what the blind beetle couldn’t see. He was able to imagine it by conjuring up thought experiments. That ability to visualize the unseen has always been the key to creative genius. As Einstein later put it, “Imagination is more important than knowledge.” – Walter Issacson (NY Times)

I wonder if this is a question that I must answer on my own? Am I forever destined to wrestle with this question until I begin to formulate a theory? Do we all have these types of experiences as a child – and if so perhaps there really is a scientist within everyone of us?

As these thought experiments remind us, creativity is based on imagination. If we hope to inspire kids to love science, we need to do more than drill them in math and memorized formulas. We should stimulate their minds’ eyes as well. Even let them daydream.- Walter Issacson (NY Times)

Read The Light-Beam Rider here.


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Creativity in Education: Exploring the Imbalance. is a documentary film that explores Creativity in education. To gain FREE access, simply comment below and we’ll follow up with a link and password.

 

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DadsforCreativity Talented and Gifted Child

3 Question Interview: Do you have a child who is Talented and Gifted?

A couple of years ago I become a member of the Connecticut Association of Gifted and Talented, I was particularly interested in this group of educators/parents because there was a desire to seek out opportunities to engage and cultivate creative thinking. Many of the educators were graduates from gifted and talented programs, where as the parents had children who had been identified as such. In my interaction with the latter, I came to realize some of the challenges and anxiety that exists for children who are talented and gifted, and more importantly the importance of intervention and support at an early age. – SCROLL DOWN FOR INTERVIEW.

 

If you’re a parent you might be interested in the following articles from DadsforCreativity: Introducing Design Thinking, Movie Making, 7 Ways to Cultivate Creativity at Home, Creativity in Education.

 

DadsforCreativity Talented and Gifted
Taking your children on a nature walk helps engage their curiosity for the world and is one of my 7 ways to cultivate Creativity at home.

Unfortunately, many schools lack the resources or training to adequately accommodate talented and gifted students, including the many who have an innate desire to create and make – I firmly believe parents of talented and gifted children can benefit from some of the content shared at DadsforCreativity.com, but I think it’s important that they primarily seek out a community of parents and educators who are not only subject matter experts, but also experienced in having a child who is talented and gifted.

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Do you have a child who is Talented and Gifted? One of the things to consider throughout this process is your child’s happiness and well-being, I encourage you to get informed, ask lots of questions, and locate resources in your area. Below is a 3 Question Interview, from the Connecticut Association of Gifted and Talented (CAG), it primarily contains resources for parents who suspect there children might be gifted and talented, or have been alerted to the possibility from experienced preschool or elementary school teachers.

 

DFC

How do we define a child who is talented and gifted?

There are many definitions as to what makes a child ‘Talented and Gifted’ but there is no concise, universal definition:

From the National Association of Gifted Children (NAGC): “Gifted individuals are those who demonstrate outstanding levels of aptitude (defined as an exceptional ability to reason and learn) or competence (documented performance or achievement in top 10% or rarer) in one or more domains. Domains include any structured area of activity with its own symbol system (e.g., mathematics, music, language) and/or set of sensorimotor skills (e.g., painting, dance, sports). Nearly every state has its own definition of gifted and talented students.  – See more here:

From the Davidson Institute for Talent Development: Many parents say, “I know what giftedness is, but I can’t put it into words.” This generally is followed by reference to a particular child who seems to manifest gifted behaviors. Unfortunately, there are many misconceptions of the term, all of which become deterrents to understanding and catering to the needs of children identified as gifted. Let’s study the following statement:

“Giftedness is that precious endowment of potentially outstanding abilities which allows a person to interact with the environment with remarkably high levels of achievement and creativity.”

From Hoagie’s Gifted:  What is giftedness?  There is no universal definition.  Some professionals define “gifted” as an intelligence test score above 130, two or more standard deviations above the norm, or the top 2.5%.  Others define “gifted” based on scholastic achievement: a gifted child works 2 or more grade levels above his or her age.  Still others see giftedness as prodigious accomplishment: adult-level work while chronologically a child.  But these are far from the only definitions.

Former U. S. Commissioner of Education Sidney P. Marland, Jr., in his August 1971 report to Congress, stated:

“Gifted and talented children are those identified by professionally qualified persons who by virtue of outstanding abilities are capable of high performance. These are children who require differentiated educational programs and/or services beyond those normally provided by the regular school program in order to realize their contribution to self and society”.

Talented and Gifted - Little Bits
There’s lots of toys that encourage children of all ages and talents to create and make. One of my favorites is Little Bits

What should parents do if they suspect their child might be Talented and Gifted?

There are many types of tests available if you suspect your child might be G/T. Identifying G/T students is mandated in the State of Connecticut so many public schools test for G/T, usually beginning in the third grade. For parents who don’t want to wait until their child is in third grade, or who don’t want to rely solely on the school’s assessment, there are independent testing resources available and the Connecticut Association for the Gifted (CAG) has a list of resources to share, all you need do is reach out to info@ctgifted.org and ask for our list of testing resources. For a list of national and international resources, check Hoagies’ Gifted’s psychologists page here.

What are some of the resources available for parents of a Talented and Gifted child?

Minds in Motion™ events take place an average of 8-10 times per year in various locations around the state of Connecticut from fall through spring. Minds in Motion™ is the Connecticut Association for the Gifted (CAG)’s signature enrichment series which offers exciting, fast-paced, interactive workshops for every child with every interest, Kindergarten – 8th grade on Saturday afternoons.

Adults can attend thought-provoking, special-interest workshops and a keynote free of charge at every MIM™ event. At Minds in Motion™ adults will also receive free literature, network with fellow parents, and learn about resources, after-school programs, camps, books, and other educational tools beneficial to your child. There are also many other resources available too, some of which have their own programs and tools. Some of these resources include: AEGUS – Association for the Education of Gifted Underachieving Students, CT State Department of Education – Gifted and talented resource page, CTY – Johns Hopkins’ Center for Talented Youth, Eric Digests – Repository for materials from the former ERIC Clearinghouse, NAGC- National Association for Gifted Children, Neag – UConn’s Center for Gifted Education and Talent Development. SENG- Supporting Emotional Needs of the Gifted and http://www.smartkidswithld.org/ – Smart Kids With Learning Disabilities. There are so many others. Check CAG’s list here.

The interview above has been shortened – for the original interview click here.


CE_FREEMOVIEV3FREE FILM on Creativity in Education

Creativity in Education: Exploring the Imbalance, is a documentary film that explores Creativity in education. The film is available on Amazon or can be access for free by simply commenting below or subscribing here.

 

 

 

7_Ways_to_Cultivate_Creativity_for_ParentsFREE BOOK on Cultivating Creativity

7 Ways to Cultivate Creativity is a FREE eBook for parents who want are looking for ideas on how to cultivate creative thinking skills at home. Subscribe here to download the book.

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Can a child's imagination go too far (1)

Can a child’s imagination go too far? Introducing Coconut Island

Hello World – I’m Coconut Island

Anyone heard of Coconut Island? I’m not talking about the Coconut Island that Google Maps will take you to on the island of Hawaii. I’m taking about the Coconut Island that now exists in the Indian Ocean. Yes, that’s right! Me, and my boy have been busy over the winter adding a new Island to our world, which I think makes for a good excuse for not blogging much over the last few months.

See Also: Imagination is more important than knowledge

Well to be accurate, my boy’s imagination has been busy manifesting a small horse shaped island not too far away from Madagascar, which has moved about a little, but now resides at approximately 10.479898 Latitude, and 42.710072 Longitude, thanks to the new world map we created in Photoshop (see below) – has this gone too far? Can a child’s imagination go too far?

The location of Coconut Island as described by my boy.
The location of Coconut Island as described by my boy. Was putting it into Photoshop too much?

It could be argued that my role as a parent on this project has been limited to a silent observer and videographer – but clearly I’m encouraging! I’m not really sure where the island came from, how it’s customs materialized, and why Mount Humainus, it’s tallest peak, was once a volcano, but no it’s not – I’ve learnt a lot about the island as part of our Discover Coconut Island series that we started on our YouTube channel.

It’s certainly been fun asking him questions about this epic adventure, which has just grown and grown and grown. Even his teachers and friends and school have heard about Coconut Island, and I’ve started to wonder if we’ve (or more specifically ‘I’) been playing into his imagination too much? What do you think? Can a parent’s encouragement take child a little too far beyond reality? Is that ever a bad thing?

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Here are 4 reasons why I’m ok about encouraging his imagination right now:

  • He seems to apply factual information that he obtains about the real world to his island. For example, we only heard about Mount Humainus after watching a show about Mount Everest.
  • Our conversations about Coconut Island, have given us reason to utilize Google Maps, learn about the Climate near the equator, and explore some of the things that I suspect will come up in his geography lessons.
  • He seems to be creating a ‘culture’ that has money, customs, and a value system. It feels like every time we share something new, such as what people eat in other countries, or what they believe, he takes this into his heard and responds with it’s equivalency on Coconut Island.
  • I think the initial concept of Coconut Island came about during a SKYPE call with Granma, so anything that adds to their relationship and brings them closer together is never a bad thing.

PS. I’m back – I’ll be blogging approximately once a week over the summer and have collected some FANTASTIC 3 Question Interviews, that I’ll be sharing soon.


 

CE_FREEMOVIEV3FREE FILM on Creativity in Education

Creativity in Education: Exploring the Imbalance, is a documentary film that explores Creativity in education. The film is available on Amazon or can be access for free by simply commenting below or subscribing here.

 

 

 

7_Ways_to_Cultivate_Creativity_for_ParentsFREE BOOK on Cultivating Creativity

7 Ways to Cultivate Creativity is a FREE eBook for parents who want are looking for ideas on how to cultivate creative thinking skills at home. Subscribe here to download the book.

Read More