I remember playing checkers and Chinese checkers growing up. I have a lot of memories of my brother wrecking the board when he was about to lose. I’ve been teaching the kids here in Juarez, Mexico how to play. It was interesting watching the boys want to move the checkers without calculating the consequence of each move and want to count how many checkers they had won or crowns they had instead of formulating a strategy. The girls caught on very quickly that they had to think through the next move before moving.
Eventually the boys caught on and learned some self-control. I had hoped that now we would have some real matches. But then the boys realized they could cheat by moving and jumping all in one move. Even though we had said about a million times that moving a space and jumping were two separate moves, they continued to try to cheat.
I also remember teaching pre-K when we got a Smartboard. We were encouraged to invent interactive ways of teaching the curriculum using the Smartboard. But the four-year-olds didn’t want to listen to instruction to understand what to press. They just wanted to touch it until the answer was right. Just touch it, click it, move it. Anything interactive, but not learning a thing. It was just another video game.
Games can make learning fun. They can teach self-control. They are also a good way to teach ethics, or rather not to cheat. But also, after a certain amount of teaching and watching, the teacher has to let the students play and referee their own games. The old games of checkers, Old Maid (has this game been renamed?), Uno, Hopscotch, and Crazy Eights are just as much fun and educational as the electronics. They also build social skills. Consider having a game night at home, and see if your kids aren’t just like the kids here. Just don’t wreck the board.


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