james paul gee

james paul gee bw

success today, you have to have 

grit (passion plus persistance)

no one is putting in 10000 hrs of practice unless they have a passion.


putting his latest here: what is a human (2020)


Jim got us a private session with James.. in 2010..


Human minds/brains/bodies do not work well when they are sick. Perhaps the deepest human sickness is a lack of agency, a lack of the feeling that one counts and matters.

from his latest book:

the anti educaation era

book links to amazon

kindle notes

a couple here:

Institutions are particularly dangerous when they freeze thinking and fail to face new realities.

Until the advent of digital media, as we will see below, humans had no way to coordinate the activities of large groups of people other than via formal institutions with their structures, rules, and often top-down chains of authority.

Imagine a college that was nothing but hundreds of linked affinity spaces built around many different important problems or endeavors.

imagine a city – no?

Knowing how to follow rules will become less important than knowing how to make them and change them.

Formal schooling tends to demand that humans use their memories the way computers do, rather than the way humans do.


find him on wikipedia

on his site:

james gee site


thursday, march 24, 2011

james paul gee

James Paul Gee from New Learning Institute on Vimeo.

games are so complex, things a kid will never get in school
assessments drive school today. we’re not going to change the paradigm unless we change the test.
why are we not tempted to test a person after playing 6 weeks of halo, but we feel compelled to test a person after 6 weeks of algebra
you trust the design and learning of that halo game better than you trust the design and learning of that algebra class

design learning that is so rich and so deep, the idea that we let a test made in a different state, trump what happens outside of that learning will become primitive

not pushing digital media, but situated and embodied learning: being able to solve problems with what you know, just not knowing a bunch of facts, being able to do stuff

return to earlier age, 18-19th cent most scientists were amateurs, people wrote letters, instead of journal articles, helped each other, mentored each other
schools in america, for 1st time in history, have genuine competition, you can learn whatever, however, outside of school, some are doing it for profit
it’s in some schools, library, and affluent homes
it’s making skill and drill schools look bad
already operating by deeper forms of assessment, where assessment is integrated and used to customize learning

Henry Jenkins interview with Gee 
Like many new ideas, the idea of games for learning (better, “games as learning”) has been often co-opted by entrenched paradigms and interests, rather than truly transforming them. We see now a great many skill-and-drill games, games that do in a more entertaining fashion what we already do in school. We see games being recruited in workplaces–and lots of other instances of “gamification”–simply to make the current structures of exploitation and traditional relationships of power more palatable.

situated embodied learning: that is learning by participation in well designed and well mentored experiences with clear goals; lots of formative feedback; performance before competence; language and texts “just in time” and “on demand”; and lots of talk and interaction around strategies, critique, planning, and production within a “passionate affinity space” (a type of interest-driven group) built to sustain and extend the game or other curriculum.


wednesday, march 2, 2011

james paul gee

video games good for kids brains?


Your brain’s important, but not all that important,” said Dr. James Paul Gee, a professor at Arizona State University and a leading authority on literacy and the potential of educational games, during a talk at the Learning and Brain conference last week.

By that he means the following: What we’d assumed about the importance of brain functions — following rules and logic and calculating — are no longer relevant. There’s been a revolution in the learning sciences and the new theories say that human beings learn from experiences — that our brains can store every experience we’ve had, and that’s what informs our learning process.


tuesday, february 21, 2012

james paul gee

we run video games in our heads to think…


comprehension is grounded in perceptual simulations (of experience) that prepare agents for situated action               -barsalou

everything about the brain says.. you’re not going to learn anything unless you choose to.
then our system says everything against that..

kids who are 7 master yugioh
rules written at super phd language..  reading college level
every piece is married to a physical action in the game, and completely
explicated in the movies
lucidly functional
that’s the way physicists look at language

can kids mod their curriculum in school?

success today, you have to have grit (passion plus persistance)
no one is putting in 10000 hrs of practice unless they have a passion.

how do we give kids grit.
how do we get them to find a passion.

if you’re just giving skill and drill – not doing any better than books in school.

you too can be a star if you want to put in your 10000 hrs of passion.
expertise is not individual.. tied to community.

affinity spaces:

learning is an individual responsibility, but proactively ask for help
collaboration is essential
everyone still a learner

how many of these 10 features are still in school.

question – taking game and putting it into school… not enough freedom
now that we know how this works for learning, can we bring it to school or destroy school as we know it.
gee – we need to break the mold of schooling..
this is where he says learning has to be by choice, and the system says it doesn’t matter, doing it anyway.
please make games that break the paradigm,,, don’t make trivial pursuit games, et al, that keep the paradigm of school as we now know it ongoing.

dang.. this is from 2009


sunday, april 4, 2010

james paul gee’s articles

When I act in the game (embodied by my character) I always know why I am doing what I am doing and I understand what my actions mean in the “emotional economy” of the story.
….makes for immersive and powerful game play.
….an important cognitive state for humans when they are learning and performing at their best.
….probably both connected to and more important than “flow” in both gaming (of the sort I am talking about here) and science and other forms of accomplishment.
…a very different view of language than the traditional one.
…words are just labels for files full of experiences, images, texts, and dialogue.
….the result of where our minds and bodies have been in the world…our trajectories through social space and time.
…this view of language renders most of how we teach and learn language, literacy, and second languages in school odd.
How could people be “learning” language and literacy if they are not moving through the world and negotiating with others about how their experiences in the world do or do not “square” with that of others and how and whether they need new experiences in the world?
…researchers have not focused much on how children acquire new styles of academic language.
We know much more about how they learn to decode print, which is ironic because more children fail or quit school because they cannot handle academic language than because
they cannot decode.
By the time children come to school, they are well versed in using conversational styles of language to think about, talk about, and act on the world of their daily experience.
The dilemma for teaching…how such conversational styles can serve as a foundation for
students’ learning in science and, in parallel, their acquisition of academic styles of language.
Bridges must be built through language between the identities students have developed outside
school and new ones they are being asked to take on in school.
bridging their conversational style of language and a more academic style as they work out possible meanings for scientific ideas they actually care about understanding.
Failing to build on students’ conversational dialects is a recipe for destroying their interest in and affiliation with school and schooling.
At the same time, failing to teach all learners new ways with words privileges those whose conversational styles already incorporate aspects of academic language.
It places at a disadvantage those students whose early language socialization has not incorporated aspects of academic language that are valued
if this is true… what about this … then everyone starts off better.
Standardized tests are used for what policy makers call “accountability”, that is, they are used to hold schools and teachers accountable for the achievement of all students, rich and poor alike. This testing and accountability agenda has often been tied to calls for a return to “basic skills” and even to scripted forms of instruction in reading, math, and science. The view of learning and assessment on which this whole agenda is based is a profoundly impoverished one.
opportunity to learn. If two children are being assessed on something which they have not had equivalent opportunities to learn, the assessment is unjust (unless, of course, the purpose of the assessment is to demonstrate this disparity in opportunity to learn).
…producers (people who can actually engage in a social practice) potentially make better consumers
(people who can read or understand texts from or about the social practice).
…A corollary of this claim is this: writers (in the sense of people who can write texts that are recognizably part of a particular social practice) potentially make better readers (people who can understand texts from or about a given social practice).
….reading tests that ask general, factual, and dictionary-like questions about various texts with no regard for the fact that these texts fall into different genres (that is, they are different kinds of texts) connected to different sorts of social practices. Children can often answer such questions, but they learn and know nothing about the genres and social practices that are, in the end, the heart and soul of literacy.
Schools will continue to operate this way until they (and reading tests) move beyond fixating on reading as silently saying the sounds of letters and words and being able to answer general, factual, and dictionary-like questions about written texts (Coles 1998, 2000). You do, indeed, have to silently say the sounds of letters and words when you read (or, at least, this greatly speeds up reading). You do, indeed, have do be able to
answer general, factual, and dictionary-like questions about what you read: this means you know the “literal” meaning of the text. But what so many people—unfortunately so many educators and policy makers—fail to see is that if this is all you can do, then you can’t really read.
Fifth Principle
People have not had the same opportunity to learn a given social language unless they have had equivalent experiences dialogically with people who know that language and who have used it in rich enough contexts to allow the learners to “guess” what perspectives the word and forms being used mean.
Sixth principle
People have not had the same opportunity to learn unless they have equivalent opportunities to “play the game” connected to the texts they are reading. Here “game” applies equally to video games and to different semiotic domains relevant to school.
In the end I claim this:……The solution is not more tests or “accountability”. The solution cannot be accomplished only at and by schools. The solution lies where we always knew it did—social justice
wow – and the new standard idea we have – fits that… everyone having access to what is needed to learn and play and flow..
i need more time to read….
also reading diy u – excellent so far.

sunday, april 4, 2010


james paul gee

we can show what things mean instead of tell them
nobody’s giving you a lecture, they’re showing what they mean
within the complicated language it comes in -simultaneously building up digital and literacy skills
people going into teaching among the lowest of digital literacy
call for break the mold schools –
we need to be able to network those experiments
the MacArhur foundation is fed up with the K-12 system.  They have moved away from trying to change the system and are working on after school programs and other programs to make change.  This is what I understand from my conversations with people like Henry Jenkins.
social system around Tony Hawk

we’re going to have to produce people to create those kinds of communities, teachers have to become designers of that kind of learning environment
they don’t just consume, they produce
commercial games have only explored 1% of the potential
most of what we can do isn’t going to be done by the commercial industry
but by unis and schools

take a look at more youtubes here



if you didn’t get the info for tomorrow (attachement) here’s a screen capture of it


bit on visit with Gee:

sunday, april 18, 2010

redefining assessment

Lots of good posts floating around… making me think and reflect… and finally pen some of *our methodology. Like some of you – I do it mostly for the critique.. critique that I need, that my kids need, …so critique that I crave.
This last year *we have been working on redefining assessment…
*for the most part, the we/our refers to 30 brave students piloting a web class,.. doing some math but also in search of ways to make the time we spend at school matter
We’ve logged a lot of findings here and consolidated our thinking on redefining success here.
I read a great post by Grant Wiggins on authentic assessment here.
Some things we’ve found that we really like:
1. grading per topic
We especially like the do overs as described by Fisch and Meyer and Hanna applying Dan Meyers test model. And, the shorter assessments. While we do like these ideas, we haven’t used any yet…
2. students grading their own tests.
This seemed crazy at first. Many students are burnt out on grading their own papers or each other’s. Even though I know they know I’m not lazy, I felt the need to convince them I wasn’t having them grade their own test to save me time. In fact, the first few times we did it, the entire process took approximately 3 times as long. Despite how difficult it was for all of us… everyone now agrees we much prefer these self-assessments.
Students grade their test in a colored pen, using a key I have made with each answer labeled with possible points and exemplary answers. I look over them after they’ve graded them. So far only one was skewed in favor of the student. Most are accurate and a few have been skewed away from the student’s favor. We finally have it down, so the scoring part doesn’t take any explanation.
One pay-off has been that students find out how close they generally are to nailing a solution. Often when students see their graded test, that’s an end in their thinking, since we’ve taught them so well that it’s all about the grade, and they go away feeling stupid. Going through the process of grading their own test keeps their mind open, and learning. Students know they will receive recognition (name added to the key… I know -it’s hard to believe that’s enough) upon finding errors in my key and upon sharing alternate methods and/or solutions.
Another pay off is the rich discussion we have while we’re grading. Students challenging other students about their answers or defending their answers. We’ve had great discussions about CSAP and ACT and SAT and how to take these tests. For many, we’re finally squelching the mystery.
Another pay off is that we’re developing better tests. My test writing skills are improving, but mostly because I’m listening to students create better questions while we discuss. Their buy-in has brought more clarity to the whole process.
3. alternate ways to assess
For students with “test anxiety” the biggest help has been their option for a per conference oral assessment. After a test, a student can schedule a one-on-one appointment with me. Then they revise any problems they missed on the test. When we meet, I’m asking them per problem, what they did when they took the test, how they would do the problem different now, and then I have them do some different form of the problem.
Every student to date that has gone through this process has improved their understanding. I’m guessing most of it is because of the timeliness and ability to probe their thinking to a deeper and more personalized level. But I also think part of it is just that they had a chance to redeem themselves before moving on. I think test anxiety has become such a common thing, real or not, because of the high stakes we put on tests, or one test, or grades. We’ve taught kids that tests are to tell them if they’re good or bad. Then the tests themselves are generally trashed, whether literally or not, they aren’t very often used to further learning.
I’m still not convinced there exists a summative test. Why would there?
A short while ago, we (12 of these students, 1 admin, a parent and myself) got the opportunity of a private session with James Paul Gee.
One thing in particular really resonated with us. Gee explained that when a teacher teaches a topic for say 6 weeks, we find it quite normal to then give a test to see what the students learned. However, when you have a student play a very difficult game, and the student advances to the hardest level, and finishes, it would seem silly to then suggest that student take a test to see how well they learned the game. The fact that they finished is proof of their success.
He said that some people are working on AP Calc after this manner. That once a student makes it through this “AP Calc game” which includes building a bridge, etc, that would grant them AP Calc credit.
Compentency vs Content.
Gee also pointed out that games don’t make you feel stupid, because if they did, you wouldn’t buy them and continue playing them. But how many times does a kid go home from school feeling stupid.
We have so much to learn about this, and so much to change. Kids should be craving feedback, to streamline success, not dreading it.
more controversy on project approval….
Say Aimee gets credit in algebra for taking some of her ap human geography group to student 2.0
Say what??
Here’s my thinking…
We know kids can get info to a large group of others if a party changes location or if we forgot to tell them to bring $5.
Why don’t we let them use those skills when prepping for school and standardized tests. It’s silliness that we don’t.
Aimee’s group currently has 39 members, collaborating on a great study guide for their AP test. What if they go national? Surely students from other districts and other states can add even more insight. Heck, just talking to each other about it and explaining things to each other is helping them learn it.
So – why can’t that act count for credit in math class. Sure, it’s not “math” but this process is key to learning how to learn. Problem solving in the purest sense.
I’m betting they’ll use this networking when it comes time for their AP Calc prep.
And better yet..what if they started using it daily. What if they started using their favorite tools and sites to teach each other…
Hey – off your phone… wait… what?…that looks like math… carry on.. :)What if success is determined by how well your network is doing…? Wouldn’t that be validation that you had success?
Ok, one more… we also think that for the big formal tests,… (summative) … that students should get 1-2 phone a friend opportunities. We think that resembles real life more (even dr’s do it).. and who of us can remember a time – that if we could have gotten one little question answered, the entire test would have looked completely different.
k – enough for now..


wednesday, june 16, 2010


on grades

here is one of my innovative and keenly skilled students crafting a class..
note his objective  #3 – be awesome.
what if it’s that simple?
we got the privilege of a private session with James Paul Gee this year (me and my students) – he told us that some people are crafting and ap calc video game… that once you finish it.. no test.. you just get credit.
ie: part of the game is building a bridge.
he said the thing about games – when you finish the hardest game at the hardest level – it would be ridiculous to say – let’s test you and see if you are any good at the game. finishing the game is proof that you are.
but – in school – we think it’s perfectly natural – to feed a student info for 6 weeks, and then give them a test to see if they are any good at it.
what if we did things (projects) that mattered in school, what if our projects were real life, like figuring out the national (or city) budget, building a bridge, … what if we did actual crafts/causes/projects in school and the business/career people we are helping determined if we were awesome of not.
if you were to hire someone to help you with your passion, would you rely on a grade they received (per fixed content) or would you rather see a collection (eportfolio/google them) of what they had actually done/shipped to make that most important decision?
if we truly make this shift.. and students truly realize what they do matters… we will be blown away by the rigor they self-impose.


unday, september 19, 2010

game design

quest to learn and james paul gee in the nytimes
[i can’t convince myself that we all need algebra… please help]more links from laura..
the current edition of new york times magazine is dedicated to education:
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/19/magazine/19Essays-kodu-t.html?ref=educationmonika, thought you may be interested in this teacher’s town hall:
other speakers on education are scheduled to appear next week on nbc’s “education nation” summitoprah is discussing education on monday (9/20) and friday, (9/24)


wednesday, july 13, 2011


james paul gee

future game industries don’t make games, they make experiences
games are about problems
future of learning – is about well -designed problem solving – not learning facts
future of learning – interactive, adaptive in a customized way, copious continuous feedback, production vs consumption, data mining,
not measuring what you did on tuesday at 11, but over timea passionate social space, where they learn to articulate their knowledge, to carry on the learning
you’ll actually not know you got assessed.
that will balance the budget right there – testing system is gone engagement and discovery 24/7 inside and outside of school who’s going to step to the plate…and make this happen