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Can We Really Learn from Games?

#experimentlearnings #edutopia

With so many uncertainties around refugees issues in Malaysia, we relook into what is effective and practical to the students, who are more than individuals that are carrying status and labels with them, but essentially they are also the future generations, the game changer of the world.

Education is a marathon than a sprint. While we thought this is a good chance for the students to practise entrepreneurship mindset, they showed us that board games are way more than that.

We believe in empowerment, and that prompts us to start the bi-weekly board game sessions that are run by the students. It is only the beginning, yet I have begun to see a learning journey not just for the students but also myself by observing (sometimes, participating- and accidentally, winning) the games of the students and other children.


1. Strategy wins the long period (term) game

Most games have a planning or strategies element, which can help the players think in different ways and inspire problem-solving, that could become the key to seeing change occur in building the community.

Simple games like Ludo allowed me to discover how some students are better at counting (and counts fast too), some share strategies because they will tell their friends why breaking up the steps are essential, some can be the game changers while taking careful steps.

You will often notice those who took their time and efforts to plan (be it in their head or saying out loud) made it to the end, which is pretty relevant to entrepreneurship.


2. Losing is one of the baby steps too

Winning games can build confidence when often schools have few mechanisms to boost the confidence. During the last session, we have a 6-year-old boy joining us, with so much enthusiasm on board games and tend to ‘guide’ other children with excitement. One of the refugee students came up to him and want to challenge him, which surprises me as he has always been the complacent type.

I think it is essential for the children to be aware of the healthy competition. With that being said, it also helps to prepare the students to face failures while they are playing games. A girl was distraught because she lost a checker game, but it does not take her long to understand that this is part and parcel of the game, which indeed is a caption of the real world – the only difference is you can choose to give up the game, but not in real life.


3. It is all about connections

Children are so energetic that I almost could not keep up the pace, but board games help to get them to sit down, be patient and stay focused. I have been looking for activities to keep the boys’ attention, and all those attempts failed.

Unexpectedly, board games keep them excited even though they are only staying at one point physically. Besides the adrenaline and ‘kiasuness’, I believe it is due to the conversations and engagement created throughout the sessions, and they tend to tell their own stories while waiting for their turn.

This activity helps to build connection not just between themselves and the participants; they also became the connection bridge for the participants coming from different background, profile and age! (There is a reason why we always say come to make new friends- we are not joking).

We try as much as we can to bring the world to the children- by starting to make friends with people at a different age, speak a different first language and comes from a different social class, that is when growth happens.