Tuesday, June 24, 2008
Sandra Day O'Connor makes Video Games?
When I was an undergrad at Syracuse University, my mentor, Bill Coplin taught me that it was not enough to get a good job, get married, and go on vacation. He instilled in me that I had to do more; give something back, I had to “do good.” He even wrote a book on the subject called, "How You Can Help," but I digress. Today, I read about someone much more important than I, who has already made a mark in history and has done a lot of good, doing even more. Retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor is continually thinking how to improve our democracy but I never thought I would hear her say the way to do that would be to play video games! Yep, according to a New York Times article in the Arts section, “Former Justice Promotes Web-Based Civics Lessons,” O’Connor is working with Syracuse’s number one nemesis Georgetown University and Arizona State University on a SecondLife type interface game called: Our Courts. The website is already up and is expected to go live this fall. I wonder if students get to choose or better yet, make their own avatar? Of course as a librarian, this game fits right into my goal of promoting lifelong learning and creating a well informed electorate. In the article O’Connor says, “The better educated our citizens are, the better equipped they will be to preserve the system of government we have. And we have to start with the education of our nation’s young people. Knowledge about our government is not handed down through the gene pool. Every generation has to learn it, and we have some work to do.” O’Connor went on to complain that a side effect of No Child Left Behind has been to squeeze out civics education leaving a big gap in our educated electorate. “…we can’t forget that the primary purpose of public schools in America has always been to help produce citizens who have the knowledge and the skills and the values to sustain our republic as a nation, our democratic form of government.” What better way to reach our young people than through the video games they love so well? I am already thinking of ways to introduce this website into my Constitution Day Celebration in September! I love technology and using it in my library as a tool has made a difference in the way students think of libraries. O’Connor agrees that technology and interactive media is the way to preserve our democracy, “interactive education can in some ways be more effective than traditional methods.” All I have to say is that I hope I have her energy to do good when I am her age. Maybe I will have to wait for my mentor to retire and get Syracuse University in the act and start making an interactive video game on The Constitution! How about it Bill?