Tag Archives: narrative

Keep Calm & Play Video Games

When I (Said) was 8 years old, my parents bought me a Playstation video game console. It was the beginning of what is now my favorite hobby. Whenever I purchase a game, I adore the ‘new game smell.’ It resembles being in a brand new car or picking up a new book for the first time. I associate it with feelings of enjoyment and excitement. I am holding an adventure in the palm of my hands.

Some may think that video games are a waste of time and money, but I do not agree. Video games are a form of entertainment that has grown rapidly since the 1970’s. They have caused controversy, changed lives, and challenged how we tell stories. My main attraction to video games stems from the fact that I am no longer a spectator but a participant in the storytelling. Nothing is more satisfying than taking a break from my daily routines and readings to immerse myself in another world. Video games have allowed me to experience rich narratives that have enhanced my thinking and influenced how I see the world. Since they are often designed to challenge the player to complete a task, video games are an amazing tool to develop problem-solving skills (trial & error, perseverance, multiple solutions…). Since 1999, video games have taught me about history, culture, science, drama, crime, racism, love, creativity, imagination and more. In other words, video games made me literate; video games are art.

Instead of hoping that children ‘grow out of it’ (I certainly haven’t!), we must shift our focus to how we can use their involvement with video games to our advantage as literacy teachers. Some of my most interesting conversations as an occasional teacher have been the result of speaking the language of video games. There is no reason to discredit it as a form of media that does not contribute to knowledge building; there is great potential for its use in classroom instruction and assessment. You do NOT need to be a gamer to bring students’ out-of-classroom hobbies into the classroom. If it helps students achieve, feel included, and contributes to their personal growth, why spoil the party? Every few weeks, my mom will text me, “How’s your Playstation doing?” Often, she regrets asking, because I will spend hours telling her about my latest adventures.

My video game shrine

Narratives of Teacher Educators

Book cover

I (Pooja) recently finished reading Negotiating critical literacies with teachers: Theoretical foundations and pedagogical resources for pre-service and in-service contexts (Vasquez, V.M., Tate, S.L, & Harste, J.C., 2013). This book provides a theoretical framework, insightful examples, and pedagogical resources for ways to incorporate critical literacy practices into pre-service and in-service teacher education. The final chapter of this text entitled “Teaching and living critical literacies” especially interested me. This concluding chapter focused on the narratives of the authors who are all teacher educators. They shared early childhood memories, classroom teaching experiences, and turning points (e.g. being the first in the family to attend college; protesting the Viet Nam War). Much of what the book’s authors shared in their written narratives reflected closely what many of our critical literacy participants in our SSHRC study have expressed. Many can identify turning points and life events in their early childhood, which contributed significantly to their philosophy and stance towards teaching and learning. Maya from our study identified being placed in a low-track after immigrating to the U.S. as a defining moment. This has influenced her practice because she now focuses on having her student teachers understand multiple perspectives and interrogate their assumptions of students, curriculum, and schooling. Providing a specific example of this pedagogical stance, Maya told us about how she conducts an entire lecture in Spanish, locating student teachers as second language learners.

This final chapter reinforced how meaningful it is to create space for the voices of literacy teacher educators.  The narratives of our participants are rich with experiences that influence their practices in the classroom. Stacie L. Tate, book author and teacher educator, articulates this well: “When people ask how I decided to become a teacher and researcher, I always reply, “I was groomed for this.” (p. 99).