This week, I read a portion of James Paul Gee’s The Anti-Education Era: Creating Smarter Students Through Digital Learning (preface; chapters 1-3, 7, 10, and 15-16). Gee, a presidential professor at Arizona State University, specializes in digital learning, most notably, gaming as a means to a more applicable, modern approach to education. The areas of focus in his book include reasons homo sapiens fail to thrive in their thinking, or act “stupid,” as well as ways people can overhaul their understanding of learning in order to think intelligently, or become “smart.” While Gee, a self-professed resident of institutional academic culture, can be -at times- heavy-handed in his approach, he also demonstrates vision, advanced understanding, and recognition of the sources of obstacles to becoming smart in this accessible, direct, and appropriately humorous work.
In my response, I will summarize Gee’s position regarding why human beings as a species can be simultaneously advanced and beleaguered in their thinking. I will argue that Gee’s position is, in part, thoroughly justified, and in part flawed, due to an incomplete depiction of the essential components of progressive education. I will amend Gee’s stance and integrate his thinking with my own to offer a modified understanding of what keeps people from being “smart.”
[References included in linked document]