Can Pokémon be educational?
All over the world, children love Pokémon. It inspires their imaginations and their creativity. In the current educational system in the United States, teachers are trying to find a way to connect with their students so that every student has a chance to succeed in school. It is crucial that teachers are able to identify with their students; understand their likes and dislikes, and their needs. Teachers need to be able to connect the curriculum to their students' lives for the material to have any significant impact. One way that teachers can connect with their students is to take notice of their students' interests, and try to weave it into the curriculum. Since so many young children love Pokémon, I think it could be successfully implemented in several types of lessons.
I first thought of the idea of using Pokémon for educational purposes after reading George Hutcheon's "On Origin of Species" column. As an education student going into the field very soon, I thought they were very informative, unique, and educational. These articles can be implemented in the classroom in a science unit; especially a science unit about habitats, and lifestyles of an animal. It would be a new and fresh idea to bring to an ordinary unit. Also, children who happen to be Pokémon fans will find learning about Pokémon in relation to real life animals thought provoking and engaging. I think it would capture their interest and they will be able to relate to the subject more.
I found that the idea of incorporating Pokémon into lesson plans was not new after doing research via the Internet. I came across a rather interesting collection of lesson plans at this website called "Master The Science... Master the Game!" found here at http://www.masterthescience.org. This website presents several science lesson plans that connect science theories and ideas to the Pokémon Platinum game. They connect ideas of time and space in relation to the Pokémon Dialga and Palkia. The lessons are designed for grades three through eight. I think that this lesson can be successfully implemented in a classroom because most students will take an interest in it, especially if they have played Platinum. The idea of learning something in relation to a video game is exciting. It can only be beneficial students because students will want to learn about it, rather than feeling like they have to.
Pokémon can be extended into several other important subjects, not just science. It can be extended to reading, math, art, computers, writing and social studies. One successful teaching strategy that elementary teachers enact in the classroom is centers. Centers are when teachers set up different tables around the classroom and students work individually, or in small groups at each table. The activities range in several subjects. After a certain period of time, the students switch centers. This is one way Pokémon can be integrated into a lesson. For young students, I would plan simple activities that relate to Pokémon to catch their interest in the activity, but students are learning valuable skills at the same time. An example of a simple activity could be "How many words can you get out of the word "Charmander?"
Writing is another important subject that could benefit the student's immensely had they option of writing about Pokémon. Many students hate writing; they find the writing process difficult and they do not see the point of it. Many students struggle in finding ideas to write about. Students need to be taught to write about what they love because it makes the writing process easier. If they write about what they love, they will become more effective and better writers. This is where Pokémon comes in. If students are allowed to write their own opinion pieces on Pokémon (whether it be on their favorite character, or favorite battling strategy) they will have more incentive to write. Obviously, this applies to any other interests students have as well.
One major concept of the elementary grade level curriculum is learning about different cultures. Pokémon can be used to bridge Japanese culture and American culture. One major way that other cultures are taught in school is comparing the similarities and differences between two cultures. In comparing both of our cultures, Pokémon can be used to illustrate the process of globalization, which is another important concept that elementary students need to grasp.
The education system is constantly changing. Teachers need to apply new ideas and strategies into the classroom everyday. When new teachers go into the field, they are always looking for ways to stand out, or ways to try something new and exciting. Implementing Pokémon into lessons is a fresh idea that can only be beneficial to students. This will only add to the curriculum; it will not take away any important lessons, and it will only enhance the learning experience. If students are able to connect their real life interests into their schoolwork, it will help them retain and remember what they have learned. Starting with students' interests is the key.
- At the end of last year, Bulbanews hosted a holiday contest, in which would-be writers were encouraged to submit a Pokémon-related opinion piece. Paperhorse (who is a college student majoring in elementary education) placed runner-up, and won herself a copy of Pokémon Ranger: Guardian Signs. The winner's essay will be published next weekend.