UK's Secretary of State for Education: video games will save the classroom

By on July 6, 2011, 7:00 AM

Michael Gove, UK's Secretary of State for Education, believes that video games can help aid the study of mathematics and science in the nation's classroom. He used Marcus Du Sautoy, a professor of mathematics at Oxford University, and his work as an example to illustrate how games can make the British education system more engaging for children.

"Computer games developed by Marcus Du Sautoy are enabling children to engage with complex mathematical problems that would hitherto have been thought too advanced," Gove said to the Royal Society in London, according to an official transcript (via Edge). "When children need to solve equations in order to get more ammo to shoot the aliens, it is amazing how quickly they can learn. I am sure that this field of educational games has huge potential for maths and science teaching and I know that Marcus himself has been thinking about how he might be able to create games to introduce advanced concepts, such as non-Euclidean geometry, to children at a much earlier stage than normal in schools."

Sautoy's Manga High allows educators to schedule online assignments that automatically reward items in accompanying Flash games. The system represents the future of early science and math education, according to Gove. His department is working with Hong Kong's Li Ka Shing Foundation and the Stanford Research Institute in the US to develop computer games that help teach students.

The official Manga High website even offers short versions of the free math games. To play full length versions for free, a teacher needs to create a school account and issue logins to its students. It's unfortunate that the full version of the games aren't simply offered for everyone in the world to play.

When I was younger, my parents bought me a Math Blaster game. I spent quite a bit of time doing exactly what Gove is referring to: shooting aliens and learning math. I remember being frustrated, just like when I learn a difficult math concept the standard way, but I also remember being ecstatic much more often when I figured out a a problem, a puzzle, or a brainteaser and as a result progressed in the game.

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