Day 142: Learn Like Your Life Depended On It

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May 21, 2012 by Alex Hoekstra

You’d think by now I’ve had said enough about education and how I think it could be done better.  As it turns out, however, there’s a lot left to be said – certainly more than I could hope to address here and now, so you can look forward (and I’m sure you do) to hearing more about rethinking education in the future.  I’m certainly looking forward to seeing new ideas rise and fall and try again as the world continues to think of better ways to become smarter, more creative, productive, successful, engaged and happy.  Schools as we know them (as most of us know them, anyway) will invariably change.  They must.  Whether they change for better or worse (as measured by the output of curious, creative, productive, happy and successful learners) remains to be seen, but today’s project gives an undying reason to believe that tomorrow’s students will look at school in ways we (or at least, I) never did.

David Hunter has been rethinking the way kids tackle a subject that I personally never found very interesting: geography.  For me, it meant maps and memorization – there was little to apply, and almost nothing to grapple with intellectually, let alone psychologically or emotionally.  By injecting geography education into a platform that engages more than the mere pre-frontal lobe, Hunter’s new teaching tools are bringing lessons back to life.

This project is to design a full middle school geography curriculum taught in the context of a Zombie Apocalypse. This project is part text book, part teaching plans, part role playing simulation – all innovative, creative, and engaging learning. With the book and learning materials that are created from this project, teachers and students will be able to learn real world geographic concepts by learning and applying their knowledge to survive in a world overrun by zombies.

I hereby coin the term Undeaducation.  Now go forth and spread it.  It’s a new way to get the full attention of students to construct a sense of involvement – of participation and engagement – in the learning process, by way of narrative and scenario-based lessons…with Zombies.  Gamification is amazing.  Students will genuinely look forward to the next chapter in a learning system that feels less like school and more like an RPG.  I think what Hunter is doing is innovative and important, and I’m looking forward to playing along and learning a thing or two about geography in the process.  Join me and what will hopefully become thousands of others in a learning game for survival and smarts – support Zombie-Based Learning on Kickstarter before June 1.


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