June 4, 2008

G4C: Sandra Day O'Connor Closing Keynote

Filed under: Uncategorized — tsladmin @ 4:37 pm

Public education is the only solution for preserving a constitutional democracy
Have to start with our young people; knowledge is not handed down through the gene pool
We have some work to do to get them educated
Only a little more than 1/3 can even name the three branches of government, let alone tell us what they do
It’s not only through rallies or marches
Young people are beginning to get engaged in public life through the internet – email, blogging, facebook
Young people can take leadership roles in these spaces
This is a start in the political campaign world, but much more can be done
Have to get them engaged first and show them that government does have an impact on their lives and vice versa
We need to use the medium they’re comfortable with – a computer screen
Give them ownership and tools to use
Partnering with arizona state and Georgetown law school – “our courts” website is free to all users
will allow students to engage in real issues and problems and enable them to find solutions to real problems
lets them step into the shoes of a judge, etc.
encourages young people to make their voices heard in their communities
Two intentions for this project

  1. Curriculum to be used in classrooms around the nation
    one consequence of No Child Left Behind is that civics education has been squeezed out because there’s not testing or funding for it
    leaves a huge gap
    can’t forget that the primary purpose of public schools in America is to produce knowledgeable citizens who have the skills and knowledge to sustain our nation and form of government
    must also stimulate real thinking and debate, as well as a commitment to civic engagement
    will exceed state standards
  2. Primarily for young people to use on their own time
    kids spend more time with media than at school or with parents
    can we get them to spend just a little of that time on civic engagement
    young people are interested in fairness and justice
    Jim Gee is helping to create a truly immersive learning experience
    will have them arguing real legal issues against the computer and against each other
    we must ensure that tomorrow’s leaders are informed and engaged in rich debate that leads to wise decision-making

The more we can populate the medium available to young people with these social justice pieces, the more informed they’ll be
Reuters: what videogames have you played before?
SDoC: I don’t play videogames – sorry
Reuters: some say games promote violence and are dangerously addictive for kids – does that worry you?
SDoC: certainly, but that’s not the kind of game we’re going to produce
NY Times: can you give examples of issues in the game and when will it be available?
SDoC: we hope by next fall to have the fundamentals on the website; resources for teachers will be up in September; Jim Gee’s work will be available by the end of September; first interactive part will be a t-shirt with a logo on it for high school students to wear – something that would raise a first amendment issue; she would love to put up something for students about the 2nd amendment (what does it mean – is it a personal right or not?); these are things students can learn to be engaged in; can provide them with precedents, the Constitution – let them make arguments for both sides
Q: Why do games & interactive technology better serve your mission?
SDoC: I’ve observed my own children and grandchildren; she’s illiterate as a computer user, but her grandchildren can do anything on there in minutes; they’ll sit in front of the screen for a long time and remain engaged; tells her that this is a good tool for this purpose; she believes that when we learn something by doing it (by having it happen to us), when you make an argument, etc. – you remember and understand it better, moreso than reading a textbook or listening to a lecture; her sense is that when we read something and learn it, there is a part of the brain that will receive it; but if we learn it by doing it, a different part of the brain will also light up (the emotional part – the “a-ha” moment); will ignite a different part of the brain; so things learned in this fashion stick with us longer; that’s what she thinks will be proven in the future
Q: what long-term outcomes do you hope to achieve with this project? Ideal place in 5 years?
SDoC: to know that classrooms all across the country are using this program and exposing children to civics education; will be easier for teachers to plug students into this curriculum – they don’t have to learn it themselves :-p
Q: what advice would you give to those who are trying this for the first time?
SDoC: there are so many subjects that people in this room are working on – all kinds of great programs; there will be as many programs as there are fertile imaginations, and we have a lot of those

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