I read with GREAT interest Jane McGonigal’s book Reality is Broken, and re-read it last summer. Over the past few years, but especially this school year, I am seeing a pattern in my students that is concerning to me.
In her book, McGonigal describes the state of “flow,” in which the stress of gameplay pushes us to continue the quest to achieve our goals and reach success. I get it. I know these feels, bro. I have played many a game where I have to, say, jump up a series of platforms to reach a goal at the top, with obstacles along the way that sometimes knock you down. I keep at it until I get to the top. If it is particularly hard, sometimes I will take a break from the game and then come back and try again later.
However, I am seeing a trend with my students. They have NO SENSE OF FLOW. They may try once or twice, but if they can not achieve the goal after that point they GIVE UP. This seems to affect students that are currently in Kindergarten through about 5th or 6th grade. The younger the student, the less perseverance they seem to have. They break down in tears. They ask me to come “beat the level” for them. They begin to express self doubt and extreme frustration. They shut down.
So, my question is, is this normal? Do students in Kindergarten always have this issue? Or are we just seeing it more now that games are available to younger students? Or is this a sign of a shift in our culture?
What do you think? Have you seen this in your students? Does it manifest during game play or in non-electronic tasks as well?