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Monday, April 25, 2011

What Dance Central Can Teach Us About Learning

[NB: This post has been modified from original publication. I have removed reference to specific songs within the game. All comments remain.]

I enjoy Dance Central. Sure, some of the songs and characters are annoying, but the game play is amazing. And it's a surprisingly intense workout to dance to some of the songs.

No, I will not post a video.

Besides being incredibly patient, encouraging and helpful, Dance Central does something else right in teaching you a new move: When you're ready to attempt it on your own, you get three tries.

Make it and you get some props. "You have that unlocked!"

Fail? The game assures you it's all good and that you'll do better next time.

...and then it moves on.

There's no wallowing in misery. There's no eternal "try that again." You simply move on to the next part with the idea of returning to this area again next time.

Left to my own devices, I would keep trying until I was beyond frustrated. Then I would storm off, swearing never to play that stupid game again. Tears and rage is where I tend to end up when I can't master something right away. I keep trying until there's no longer any joy in learning. Dance Central won't let me do this. To keep the game fun--and to keep me out of a rut--it gives me three attempts and then cheerfully moves on.

And unlike the "I'm in a band playing rock music" games which boo and jeer when you fail--and, yes, I fail--Dance Central acknowledges you need to do some more work, but stays positive.

The lessons?

  1. Stay positive. It's easier for a computer to ignore my groans and complaints, but the constant affirmation works wonders.
  2. Keep it limited. Put a cap on the number of attempts, and then move on until a later date.
  3. Acknowledge growth areas. Don't tell me that I'm doing fine. I'm not and I know it. But honestly assessing that I'm not too bad but can totally get it next time is a huge benefit. If we're honest about the shortcomings then the successes will be real.

I'm a huge fan of working toward mastery. But I've realized that even the mastery approach to education needs to bend to something else: The love of learning.

If you're not loving it, take a break and move on. It's far more important to want to return to learning later than to continue until all is misery and you swear off learning forever.

Looking for homeschooling curriculum you're guaranteed to love? Sonlight has just such a guarantee when you get a complete homeschool curriculum program.

 ~Luke Holzmann
Filmmaker, Writer, Empty Nester

16 comments:

Otter said...

Supaman that fresh Sonlight customer!

Onward, Xian Souljahs!

Luke said...

My wife's favorite part is the "Superman, Ohhh!" line <smile>. Good times, Otter.

~Luke

Otter said...

I really don't know how to tell you this gently, Luke...

That word isn't "Ohhh."

Bob and Cheri said...

Luke,

You need to make yourself familiar with urbandictionary.com.

Chloe said...

And there's a "the" in between the Supaman and the word that isn't "ohhhh."

Luke said...

Thanks for the heads up, friends. I hadn't looked up the song on urban dictionary because, well, I find the content there horribly inappropriate. Though, I will admit: I have sometimes found the site helpful when I'm particularly baffled by a modern idiom.

I had briefly looked up the words on lyric sites hadn't seen the phrase urban dictionary records. I much prefer to keep the words nonsensical: "superman" and "ohhh!" <smile>

~Luke

Legume said...

The part of your post where you talk about mastery needing to bend to the love of learning resonated with me. Thank you.

Bob and Cheri said...

The problem is: the words are not nonsensical. So while that is a convenient answer, it's akin to "lalalalalalala, I can't hear you!"

You need to be aware of what you are blogging about.

Mamadala said...

You also might want to google the real lyrics of that song,

SonlightBlog Reader said...

so....if you, your wife, and your children are memorizing and singing words that have meanings which you know to be contrary to your morals and values, as long as you give those words alternative meanings it's ok? Really?

Luke said...

Thanks, Legume. Glad to hear it! <smile>

Cheri, I don't think I was saying "lalalalalalala" at all. I had taken a moment to google the lyrics and the words recorded on the sites I found were nonsensical. They did not contain the terms found on urban dictionary.

Thanks, Mamadala! I have now done so.

SonlightBlog Reader, no, not really at all, actually. I am not memorizing nor singing the words recorded on the dirtier websites. That was my point: If people hadn't sent me to the often horribly inappropriate urban dictionary, I'd still be ignorant. I'm not anymore, which is good in a certain sense. On the other hand, I will make no effort to memorize those lyrics. I'll continue to say, "Ohhh!"

And, as I mentioned in the original post: The songs and characters of this game can be annoying (the sheer volume of inappropriate references in music is consistently frustrating...and has been for several generations now). I'm not recommending you go out and pick up this game. But if we can learn about education from a well-produced--totally secular--game, may we do so!

~Luke

Otter said...

Luke, this is moral incoherence of a really rare order.

The song is aggressively misogynistic and offensive. I have no problem with you saying, "Yeah, but I like it for reason X, so I listen to it anyway." I do that a lot. But let's just call it what it is: it's winking at a value you don't approve of because of its redeeming (?) merits.

But bowdlerizing it so that it doesn't say what you don't want it to is an offense against both truth and the artist.

As you know, the word "bowdlerize" comes from Thomas Bowdler's attempts to present the works of Shakespeare with all the naughty and immoral bits left out. His audience was Victorian women, whose ears (he felt) should not be subjected to Shakespeare's rougher language.

Soulja Boy is no Shakespeare. But the operation you're performing here is the same.

Make no mistake: Soulja Boy celebrates his ability to "Superman that ho."

You imply in your comments that you were "innocent" of the meaning until some garden serpents sent you that way. That's just lazy-brain, Luke, and made worse by the implication that ignorance and innocence are identical. It's also, coming from a public Evangelical, disturbingly indicative of Evangelicalism's determination to remain mired in the brain of a Victorian woman, as conceived of by Thomas Bowdler.

Man up. You like a dirty song. Say so. It's really okay. The Apostle Paul apparently liked a raw bit of language now and then... though I'm not the guy to make the case that Soulja Boy is in the stadium with Paul.

Bob and Cheri said...

Luke, I am not sure what site you are using to review the lyrics; but they do indeed contain that phrase:

supaman dat oh

When you read the entires song, it's clearly very sexual and inappropriate for children... at least.

I am just shocked that you are holding this up as a banner for Sonlighter's to follow, and refusing to see what this song is so clearly addressing.

The lyrics are not at all non-sensical, even if one is not familiar with the meaning "supaman dat oh".

I am not a fan of urban dictionary, and do find many of the entries horribly inappropriate; but no more inappropriate than this song. Simply pretending that this song is innocuous just leaves me shaking my head.

Luke said...

Otter, I'm not a fan of the song. I don't listen to it for fun. The original context I referenced it was in terms of how active the dance is... and that is the context in which I experience it.

I was not aware of the "bowdlerize" and you make an interesting point. My point is not to rework Soulja Boy, but rather continue in his own ambiguity (and perhaps intentional censoring) found in the game I encounter the song within.

I have no trouble "manning up" to liking certain inappropriate media. This instance is not one of those cases, however.

Your critique of my "implication that ignorance and innocence are identical" is interesting. I would put this more in the camp of meat sacrificed to idols. For me--especially before I had any idea of the completely improper "proper" lyrics--this song held no issue for me. For those, the opposite is true. Having seen that they feel I am pushing them toward sin, I am happy to remove the reference as I am not interested in nudging anyone toward evil. But, back to the point: Ignorance did make me innocent.

Cheri, I'm sorry that things have gotten muddled here. I was not "holding this [song] up as a banner for Sonlighter's to follow" as my post was not about the song in question. My post was--and still is--about what we can learn from a well-produced, albeit entirely secular--game.

The song's original/intended/uncensored/thinly-veiled/implied [as I still can't quite sort out which is what yet] lyrics--as presented on the site recommended--are horrible and completely inappropriate. I'm not trying to pretend otherwise.

~Luke

tanyaRejoyce said...

Luke, you just don't get it, do you?

You posted a link to something inappropriate and you are angry with others for pointing out that it was inappropriate, and are making excuses, rather than simply correcting your mistake and apologizing and moving on.

To justify this, you claim innocence (even after the Hannah Keeley brouhaha involving the SAME song) and then you pull out scripture about meat sacrificed to idols. What about the scripture about being careful to do what is right in all men's eyes?

This sounds more petulant than apologetic.

Luke said...

Tanya, I am just now starting to "get it." Thanks for fleshing this out a bit more.

I am not angry. Granted, I'm not happy people pointed me to the dirty lyrics, because now they are in my mind. But I was happy to remove to the link and apologize for my ignorance. I'm also sorry for my complete confusion which lasted for so long. It took me way too long to realize that the unstated meaning of these comments has been, "Please remove the reference." Once someone said that, I acted immediately.

I do still claim initial ignorance to both the dirty lyrics and the Hannah Keeley thing... though the irony is incredible. Is it not? <smile>

"What about the scripture about being careful to do what is right in all men's eyes?" ...isn't that kind of the point of the meat/idols passage as well? If you realize that something is problematic for your brothers and sisters, stop it. As I have done and am happy to do.

I'm sorry my response sounded petulant. That was (and is) not my intention.

~Luke


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