So I immediately tried to counsel my students to safety. “Are you sure you want to try out for football? It’s a pretty tough sport, you know. Why not wait for the basketball, baseball or soccer season?”
Their reply blew me away: “We’re going to be great at football, Mr. Ferriter. We completely dominate in Madden 2008 on our PlayStations. No one can beat us!”
These two boys who had never played an organized sport in their life—-let alone an organized sport where physicality is essential for success and where brutal hits are commonplace—-had convinced themselves that football was the right sport for them because of their video game prowess. In their minds, mastering skills with digital players on an electronic field in their living rooms translated somehow into an belief that they would excel on a real field wearing real pads trying to tackle 200-pound kids without breaking their necks!
Wild, huh? […]
Are middle schoolers—-who love fantasy and imagination to begin with—confused, failing to find the line between fiction and reality when determining what they “know” and “can do?”
Interesting questions, huh?
It is an interesting question. Today was graduation at my school, and we said farewell to our ninth graders — our top grade. The students who have just left are not so confused about the line between video fiction and reality. But the grades after them seem to be much more fluid.
The thought occurs to me, though… GUITAR HERO and similar games are always improving. Is there going to come a time when the student fantasy, “I am a great guitar player” is going to collide with the technological marvel of a GUITAR HERO guitar that will mimic the ability to play guitar more closely?
Will our fantasist simulations ever be indistinguishable from reality? What will school look like when that happens? Is it going to occur in my professional lifetime, or in some Tomorrrowland I may never see?
Increasingly, I think it will be in my professional life — medical advances and life expectancy changes mean that I may easily work another forty years before retiring. In now’s climate of Future Shock, 40 years is an eternity — 80 machine generations, 50 medical generations, 100 biotech generations. The horse may even learn to talk.