This week, Wizards of the Coast, makers of RPG D&D and Magic: the Gathering, launched their new teaching kits to bring gaming into the classroom through teachers and educators. This comes off of the launch of the newest Dungeons & Dragons Starter Set: Dragons of Stormwreck Isle, coming out on October 4th. It got me thinking about how video games and gaming are becoming more commonplace in teaching and in classrooms. I thought it was just something I was doing as a parent, but this proves there is a demand for it somewhere.
With the first month of school underway, kids are already coming home sniffling, taking time off school because they are coughing and sticky. When we were kids, this meant Game Boys and cartoons. As kids, we felt like we were getting out of learning and taking it easy. Now, as a mom, I see gaming a little differently. It’s no secret that I’ve used games like Fortnite or Minecraft to teach my children skills like reading, working with others and hand-eye coordination. I sneak in learning while we play.
It turns out with children heading back into classrooms after two years of remote learning or hybrid learning, educators were worried about students’ social skills and perhaps even the possibility of them being behind in their learning. Wizards of the Coast aim to bring fun to education while teaching important life skills with Dungeons & Dragons. “In the classroom, the new teaching kits aimed for grades 4-6 and 6-8 offer a way for educators to incorporate D&D into their lesson plans, reinforcing language arts, problem-solving and interpersonal skills, all while having fun going on an adventure.”
Yes, Fortnite may help your children practice their reading and working with others. Minecraft and Roblox may reinforce creativity. There are plenty of mobile games that will teach spelling, reading, and more, but all leave your children staring at a screen. I think using RPGs (role-playing games) is a brilliant idea, and not just in the classroom. Schools will also be able to get the D&D Afterschool Kit that will be available in libraries, allowing kids to take an RPG, Dungeons & Dragons, home. This could make for a great social gathering with friends, or even something to share with their parents.
Here is what some people think about using RPGS and D&D to educate:
“D&D hones critical thinking and problem-solving — it’s one of the few activities that prompts students to solve high-stakes problems in a low-stakes environment,” said D&D Club volunteer in the Bay Area, Zac Clay. “Whether a student is into art, math, science, writing or otherwise, D&D gives them an opportunity to experiment with their favourite skills while also developing new ones.”
“I use Dungeons & Dragons both in my classroom and as an after school extracurricular with students from grades 3 to 8,” said Elementary School Teacher in Ontario, Canada, Emilie Rayner. “In class I asked my students to go around the table and use a few words to describe Dungeons & Dragons to peers who had not heard of it. The words they chose were ‘telling a story together’, ‘making friends’, ‘sharing jokes’, ‘solving puzzles’, ‘battling monsters’, ‘being heroes’ and ‘creating crazy characters.’ I think this perfectly describes the fun, whimsical, collaborative problem-solving that is Dungeons & Dragons.”
“With a bit of patience and a set of polyhedral dice, a role-playing game like Dungeons & Dragons can transform the classroom for young people,” said Associate Professor at Stanford University, Antero Garcia. “Trying on new identities, collaborating with peers to create and explore new worlds, and building unforgettable adventures. These kinds of activities blend academic skills and social development in ways that just might be nothing less than life changing.”
In my high school we had a Risk Club. A group of us got together after hours and played the board game Risk. We thought nothing of it at the time; we were just a bunch of nerds wanting to play games (still are!). We were social, having fun and, unbeknownst to us, learning how to strategize and problem solve.
“Schools will also be able to get the D&D Afterschool Kit that will be available in libraries, allowing kids to take an RPG, Dungeons & Dragons, home.”
RPGs can span across so many subjects: English and writing when developing a story or character. Drama and art, by actually playing out those roles. Even with creating your own stories, you can explore history, geography, and more. Those don’t even include the reading involved working as a team, problem-solving and developing important social skills.
The International Literacy Association is hosting a sponsored series, in-person and online, where people interested can hear from educators on how Dungeons & Dragons can work in the classroom. Additionally, anyone interested can head over to the official D&D site to learn more about the game, educator resources, how to play and even how to DM.
Video games have a place in education, absolutely, but Wizards of the Coast may really be on to something. Bringing popular RPGs like Dungeons & Dragons to the classroom and making it readily—and officially—available to educators and students could be a real game changer in the way people learn in and out of school.