Reflecting Allowed

Maha Bali’s blog about education

Encouraging Imperfection, Embracing Not-yetness, Almost-thereness

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I took a huge risk today with my students. I had them take the educational games they designed, and I asked them to play them at the foyer of our library. I invited faculty, librarians and friends to come (some don’t even work on campus and they came!) and I asked them to invite their friends to come, and to call people coming into the library to study to take a break and come play.

It’s a risk because I only see my students for 4 weeks and whatever they produce is imperfect. Even after I looked at their prototypes and they revised it, it’s imperfect. I give imperfect feedback ๐Ÿ™‚ and they have millions of things to do.

But it’s still beautiful work they produce. Creative, which is the key goal of the course. And it all has so much potential, which is what matters. Here are their initial descriptions of their games (they solicited feedback from my twitter network and got great tips).

In one way, I wanted them to play imperfect games and think of how to improve them. One group told me today how they kept tweaking the rules with each iteration of the game. Another group told me how they created a simpler “mission” for their game to make it manageable within 15 minutes to finish their game. One group created a survey to get feedback on their game (not something they were required to do).

All in all, I think it was a good risk to take. There was a lot of joy and pride and just plain fun going on after the initial anxiety of having their work displayed. I pushed them to make themselves vulnerable and they shone.

Check out the photos I tweeted to the #gameseg hashtag.

So I think I’m gonna borrow Amy Collier’s (now very popular) term “not-yetness”, which I take to be an embracing of emergence, of “almost-thereness” ๐Ÿ™‚

I keep wondering if i should be teaching my students more about things like game mechanics and dynamics and aesthetics and stuff, but it all feels like words, when the fun and creativity that comes out of them when they play, reflect, and construct and re-construct seems like so much more learning and so much more than I can imagine. Every single time. It gets me every single time. I love my undergrads ๐Ÿ™‚

One Comment

  1. What an interesting idea! I’d never heard of ‘not-yetness’ but I like it a lot. My colleague here, Kate D’Arcy, published a paper with the Journal of Pedagogic Development about the messiness of research, and this seems like an apt collision of ideas…. I’m also reminded of a conversation with a Danish man when I lived in Cairo, 1994-1995. My flatmate Steve had got us jobs as film extras for an Egyptian film company that needed European/American faces for certain scenes. In one particular scene, there was a party for bureacrats. There were about thirty of us in dark suits, men and women. I had to pretend to talk to this Danish man for the scene, but between takes (when the proper actors got their lines wrong) he and I used to talk for real. He told me about a book by the Danish author Peter Hoeg, who was making a splash in the UK with the magnificent ‘Miss Smilla’s Feeling for Snow’. He was telling me about another Hoeg book but he didn’t have the English to do the translation correctly, so he called it ‘The-Almost-But-Not-Quite-Good-Enough-People’ and I looked out for it for some months. I eventually found it. In English it was published as ‘Borderliners’.

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