The Quest to Learn School: The future of education?
The Quest to Learn School in Manhattan, New York, was founded on the idea that traditional schoolroom pedagogy was no longer effective for children growing up with the new technologies of modern society. Known as the school for “digital kids,” this pioneering institution has been educating junior high school students since 2004. Subjects included represent all areas of a typical curriculum, but are fully integrated into a gaming technology educational format, teaching concepts through system based creation and analysis.
Quest to Learn School has been lauded since its inception as an innovative establishment that is successfully utilizing technology from the gaming consoles of American homes and arcades in the classroom, making it a highly inviting digital learning environment for children. Founder, Katie Salen, believes that kids of the 21st century are being deprived of an education when instructors deny learners context within the classroom. Pedagogical approaches that stress theoretical concepts without application are not appropriate for youth whose lives have been nurtured by 24/7 mediated spaces. Using gaming technologies to teach allows all students the opportunity to explore applied world models in familiar territory. With these assumptions, one may assume that ideologies like those employed by the Quest to Learn School should, in theory, be the infallible solution to today’s educational problems.
However, the methodology of Quest to Learn School is yet experimental at best, because it relies on the informative competencies and values of relatively new and marginally understood entertainment technologies. One of the most striking inadequacies researchers have begun to detect in gaming technologies is the under-representation of females and their educational needs. The subcultures of the digital game world often neglect female values, present girls as outsiders, use imagery and interactions that are typical of male discourses, and often cultivate lasting discomfort and anxiety for females within their digital environments. The abundance of masculine qualities in educational games is creating unequal and gender-biased information and digital literacy, leaving females disadvantaged in their ability to pursue careers and hobbies in information technologies (IT) fields.