Because teenagerdom is a mess, but some people handle it better than others.
Former SCOTUS Justice Sandra Day O’Connor Is Saving the Future With Video Games
by Jamie Frevele | 12:55 pm, July 6th, 2011
Former United State Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor — the first woman on the bench — is disappointed and concerned that schools no longer put an emphasis on kids’ knowledge of how their own country works. So, she’s been working on an initiative to re-introduce civics in a way that will make kids want to learn it: by turning it into video games. (She been doing this for a while, actually, but we’d forgotten about it until Newsweek reminded us, and now, we get to write about the next great iconic video game hero, Chuck Freepress, constitutional lawyer and warrior for the First Amendment! And this game is only part of O’Connor’s ongoing initiative to bring technology and education together. This is the coolest thing to happen to school ever.
Now that all the country knows how to do is shout, scream, and cause a ruckus in the name of spreading their political views, many have taken notice of a certain lack of civility. And sure enough, research has shown that high school students today know less than their predecessors knew as recently as five years ago. More emphasis has been placed on testing and just getting kids into college, but fewer and fewer of them know the most basic workings of their own government. And according to Newsweek, only 29 states — out of 50 — “require high-school students to take a civics or government course.” In a political climate where there is so much focus on the future generations of our country, how are schools getting away with those future generations not knowing enough about their own country?
O’Connor has come up with a solution for this, and brilliantly enough, it’s in the form of video games. While not as action-packed as most video games, her non-profit organization iCivics aims to pique the interest of children using entertainment infused with trivia about the U.S. government. The site currently features 15 games, putting players in the role of Supreme Court justice, conscientious voter, and even the President of the United States. Each of them are specifically geared towards the basic tenets of our government — separation of powers, all three branches of government, citizenship, budgeting, and the Constitution. The aforementioned Chuck Freepress appears in a game called “Do I Have a Right?” in which you run a firm of constitutional law experts and match clients with the lawyers they need. Soon, they hope to implement a student blogging platform and another feature that lets kids upload and edit videos. Imagine that! Finding fun in enthusiastic citizenry! Recognizing the educational worth of video games!
Newsweek points out that the iCivics games pick up where games like Where In the World Is Carmen Sandiego? left off. But for one thing, Carmen Sandiego is still country-hopping around the world. And for another, who’s to say that geography and civics can’t go hand-in-hand? It’s a small world after all, you know.
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