New city public school brings video games into the classroom
and Mark Brooks
Video games. Web surfing. Social networking. Activities that once distracted kids from their studies will be the focus of their education when a new Manhattan public school opens in September.
The middle/high school, called Quest to Learn, is slated to launch in District 2 and will accept only sixth-graders its first year.
The Institute of Play, a New York-based nonprofit organization that advocates online play as a learning tool, and The New School developed the curriculum that will use innovative programs to teach math, science and the humanities, among other disciplines. Students also will create their own video games.Students today can and do learn in different ways, often with digital media, said principal Aaron Schwartz, stressing that this is not a school about playing games.
The video games they do offer will have educational value, said Katie Salen, the executive director of the Institute of Play.
Simply bringing games into the classroom doesnt work. If its not supported in the right way its out of place.
The school touts strong college- and career-focused academics, and offers wellness/sports programs, internships starting in eighth grade and early college admissions.
Its a career and technical school, which means students will come out with an employable skill, said Melody Meyer, a spokeswoman for the citys Department of Education. Students will get a lot of background in a very exciting industry.
The School for Digital Kids, as it is also called, will likely be located downtown, though an exact building has not been selected.
A Web site similar to Facebook will allow teachers to assign projects and engage students online.
Other parts of the curriculum will transform classrooms into game rooms. One potential lesson would teach students about the Peloponnesian War through role-playing.
The whole school is set up to be a gamelike environment, Schwartz said.