Reflecting Allowed

Maha Bali’s blog about education

Learning Goals for Humanity: Invite Students to Break Your Heart

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http://diglit.creativitycourse.org Ok, I didn’t actually literally invite this. But it’s what is happening and while my heart is breaking, it is also swelling with pride at the depth of empathy and humanity my students are showing in their proposed digital narrative games this semester. I’ve been teaching freshmen for several years, and it’s my first time teaching older students (mostly juniors but my sophomores are as mature as my seniors this semester – a really beautiful group). 

So the assignment is in multiple parts (details and links on our course website here). First we played a couple of digital narrative games in class (Spent/BBC Syrian Refugees) and reflected orally then they played more games of their choice at home and blogged reflections. We reflected a bit in class, then they had time to create their own prototype game as a blogpost. If you want to give them feedback on their blogposts, just go to http://diglit.creativitycourse.org and search for the keyword “Prototype” or “narrative game” and you’ll be able read their posts and leave a comment.

This semester, I have students thinking of games to educate and promote empathy for orphans, domestic abuse victims, streetsweepers, cancer patients, drug addicts, Mexican earthquake survivors and homeless people. 

Last semester, one student game really touched me. It was a board game about mental illness and one of the team members was herself suffering from mental illness. I didn’t ask all my students how closely they knew the people they were promoting empathy for, but I’ve asked them to do additional research, speaking to people in those situations or counselors or such.

As I was looking at one of the blogposts now, and giving feedback on it, I was thinking of how these games have dug deep into their emotions and inner strength to consider creating games like these. I am sure some have taken risks of exposing M ore about themselves than they thought they would be doing in this course. And I have a feeling that once these games become the digital games they’re destined to become (it’s a digital literacies course!) they might have value beyond the course. I can’t wait to have my heart broken over and over again.

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