Sunday, September 24

Games and play put fun into education


Sylvester speaks at a recent workshop in Unimas.

KUCHING: Many think that games and play have no part in education but a research group in Sarawak begs to differ.

Coventry University Game Science (Applied Games) professor Dr Sylvester Arnab believes that to gauge a student’s understanding, teaching should not be rigid nor a one-sided communication.

“When the teaching method is dry and rigid, students tend to get bored and lose interest. When this happens, the teacher has to keep repeating to ensure the message gets across,” he said in a statement on Thursday.

Coventry University is collaborating with Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (Unimas) through the CreativeCulture project to address educational challenges within the context of inclusive learning for learners from the rural parts of Borneo.

The CreativeCulture project is aligned with the inclusion of Arts in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education, realising the potential of these subjects by enabling true innovation and new thinking through creativity.

It is funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) UK and Ministry of Higher Education Malaysia (MoHE) under the Newton-Ungku Omar (NUOF) programme. Sylvester said nothing beats a proven hands-on experience.

“Imagine medical doctors getting their medical qualifications without any hands-on experience or a chemical engineer who has never mixed chemicals aside from theoretical information in text books. Physical experience helps students understand better. Now imagine if we incorporate games and play into teaching that subject,” he said.

Sylvester and his team in Coventry are working with the university to expand games and play in four other campuses.

To date they have reached out to other parts of Europe, US and Trinidad and Tobago, which have seen improvement in teaching delivery.

“We need to allow fun, playful, hands-on, socially and culturally grounded explorations of curricular topics during primary and secondary school to foster contextualised and deeper learning,” he remarked.

The CreativeCulture project, he said, would explore and experiment the impact of arts, design and culture in enhancing creative thinking and development in primary and secondary education.

“Art and design are poised to transform our economy in the 21st century just like science and technology in the last century, so it is time we go back to our roots and use games like congkak, hopscotch, hide-and-seek and even treasure hunt types of games to teach science and maths,” he added.