How Childhood Education Will Change with Chrisman Frank and Ana Lorena Fabrega on North Star Podcast with David Perrell

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Key Takeaways

  • In traditional learning methods, some kids struggle to make the connection between what they learn and real-world problems
  • Non-traditional learning enables kids to leave their comfort zones so they get “comfortable being uncomfortable”
  • Learning with computer simulations works because kids aren’t forced to learn under a syllabus timeline
  • Kids should be taught there are infinite possibilities and to seek careers that don’t even exist yet – they don’t have to fit into what exists
  • Traditional schools produce learned helplessness – especially when kids are told to “stay in these bounds”
  • Playing videogames helps to make kids resilient – they know they have another chance and will try again
  • “You’re training the next generation to move civilization forward” – Chrisman Frank
  • Diversity of approaches is best for education – Synthesis is a unique part of the whole education system

Intro

Chrisman Frank, (@chrismanfrank) is the CEO, and Ana Lorena Fabrega,(@anafabrega11) is Chief Evangelist of  Synthesis, an enrichment club that teaches complex problem-solving and decision-making for kids 7 to 14 through online team games.

Learning Through Videogames

  • When kids play videogames, they practice teaching themselves – how to win – in the process they pick up new skills
  • The newly learned skills empower kids and evoke positive feelings about themselves
  • Videogames are not only fun but teach problem-solving

Non-Traditional Learning With Synthesis

  • In traditional learning methods, some kids struggle to make the connection between what they learn and real-world problems
  • Synthesis uses non-traditional methods – videogames – and designs the lessons not for content but for the experience
  • “It changes the way they look at things and pushes kids to make a stance—that making a decision has consequences and meaning” – Ana Lorena Fabrega
  • Kids are used to teachers having the answer, but in this method, the simulations have no right answers
  • The simulations show a purpose behind learning and relevance to the real world
  • Non-traditional learning forces kids to leave their comfort zones so they get “comfortable being uncomfortable”
  • Learning by doing something is natural to humans

The Problem with a Syllabus

  • Following a syllabus can be stifling because it doesn’t allow for students to go on a tangent of interest
  • A syllabus is a rigid road map for teaching and old-fashioned
  • Computer simulations work because kids don’t work under a syllabus timeline
  • Education should be curiosity-driven: historically, that’s how schools used to operate
  • Kids should be taught there are infinite possibilities and to seek careers that don’t even exist yet – they don’t have to fit into what exists

Why Synthesis Videogames Are Good for learning

  • Through simulation mechanics, kids learn the workings of the game
  • Using simulation concepts, kids learn to solve hard problems
  • Kids start recognizing patterns that come up repeatedly – mental models
  • The games teach to the problem, not to the tool
  • Learning on demand is the old way of learning
  • The educational video games ask the student for reflection at the end:
    • Team reflection – how did we work together?
    • Personal reflection – how did you contribute to the overall outcome?

The Bias of Education

  • As a society, education is moving away from books and lectures and toward software and games
  • Lectures are a good way to learn letters and numbers
  • The current education system was meant to teach potential factory workers to follow instructions – but the world has changed!
  • Computers now do much of what kids are being taught to do in school
  • Traditional schools produce learned helplessness – especially when kids are told to “stay in these bounds”
  • Videogame teaching unlocks new ways of delivering information to students
  • The latest trend in computer teaching: making the games more interactive

Lessons Kids Learn

  • When kids do badly at school, it demotivates them
  • But when kids don’t do well-playing videogames, they bounce back from being defeated and want to try harder
  • Playing videogames helps to make kids resilient – they know they have another chance and will  try again
  • Losing at videogames normalizes mistakes -it teaches kids that it’s okay to try and fail
  • It allows the students to question everything
  • “You’re training the next generation to move civilization forward” – Chrisman Frank

 Age Segregation

  • In traditional education, kids are stuck being with kids only their age for 12 years – this idea  started in 1890
  • Studies show kids learn better when older kids help younger kids, younger kids learn from the older ones and emulate them
  • The mix-aged model benefits older and younger students because kids don’t learn at the same pace despite their age
  • Kids shouldn’t be labeled as, for example,  a 3rd grader- it puts a label on what a kid should or shouldn’t know
  • “The best mentor for a five-year-old is a seven-year-old” – Chrisman Frank

The Socialization Issue

  • Some parents worry learning through videogames means too much screen time
  • But critics say that videogame homeschooling actually gives kids more time to be outside with other kids
  • Kids don’t get much time to talk at school except at recess -they’re usually told to be quiet!
  • Not talking is unnatural for children
  • With Synthesis, kids talk actively in an online space
  • Diversity of approaches is best for education
  • Synthesis is a unique part of the whole education system
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Notes By EWerbitsky

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