Game on for techie teachers

28th July 2006 at 01:00
"Aww, Miss, do we really have to play Super Mario Brothers? Can't we do some maths?"

The idea that games-addicted teachers are forcing pupils to play on computers may seem far-fetched, but a study suggests they may be keener to use them in lessons than teenagers.

A poll of 2,300 secondary pupils in England and Wales found that students become less convinced of the educational merit of computer games as they grow older.

While 66 per cent of 11-year-olds wanted to use them in lessons, only 49 per cent of 15 to 16-year-olds agreed. In contrast, a poll of 1,000 secondary and primary teachers earlier this year indicated that 59 per cent wanted to use computer games in the classroom.

Both studies were carried out by Ipsos MORI for the Teaching with Games initiative, a project run by Futurelab, an education research centre in Bristol, with support from software firms including Electronic Arts and Microsoft.

Just over half of the pupils who did not want to use computer games in lessons said they "preferred to do other kinds of activities in the classroom".

More than a third suggested school might take the fun out of the games, saying they would rather play them at home. Some said they would "prefer to learn, not play games" and that they did not believe games could be educational.

Richard Sandford, researcher at Futurelab, said: "It challenges the stereotype that pupils are constantly texting PlayStation addicts while their teachers are Luddites."

But he said the sample size made it difficult to compare teachers' and pupils' views accurately and that the findings suggested teachers should give more explanation to older pupils when they use computer games in lessons.

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