[cross-posted at the TechLearning blog]

I'm in the midst of reading Clark Aldrich's Simulations and the Future of Learning. As Aldrich walks me through the process of developing a leadership simulation, he has a number of interesting things to say about video game and simulation design. Thanks to Aldrich's clear and engaging prose, I'm finding myself unexpectedly captivated by the nitty-gritty of the workflow of simulation production.

So far the statement that has resonated with me the most, however, pertains as much to education as it does to the gaming industry. Aldrich said:

The goal of learning in any organization (business, educational, governmental) should be to make its members more productive (p. 3).

I'll agree with that. And I probably would add to the end of that statement "... and more powerful." I think that additional phrase takes the edge off what might be construed as a focus solely on preparation for work and expands it to include personal empowerment.

Productive and powerful. Isn't that what we want for the children in our schools? Isn't that we want for the educators with whom we work? Productive and powerful. I like it.

We have 50 million public school students in the United States. Are the thousands of worksheets that they will complete in their lifetime making them more productive? Are their countless hours of individual seat work going to lead to greater personal empowerment? Are they getting opportunities to be both productive and powerful on a regular basis?

What about our subpopulations? Are socioeconomically-disadvantaged students often getting the chance to be powerful? Do our students with disabilities or our students whose primary language is not English have multiple, ongoing opportunities to feel like they are productive, contributing members of our communities?

What about our 3 million public school teachers? Are the tens of millions of hours that they spend in staff development and training each year actually making them more productive? Do you think the bulk of them feel empowered by their 'learning opportunities?'

Do we regularly ask ourselves these kinds of questions in our school organizations? As educators, should we?

I have some hard thinking to do about my own graduate classes and degree programs here at Iowa State...