Oakland Charter School Replaces Curriculum with Angry Birds
NOVEMBER 6, 2011 | ISSUE 1
An Oakland, CA charter school has taken the unorthodox approach of replacing an entire curriculum with a single five-hour class that allows students to work their way through the popular video game Angry Birds.
Principal MaryAnne Bray, of the Oakland Academy of Arts and Sciences, explained Tuesday that, “Angry Birds encompasses so many teachable properties that we believe students will come away from this program with an enriched understanding of several fields of study.” Bray said that Angry Birds allows students to apply the principles of geometry, physics, engineering, logistics and architecture in a practical and hands on manner. “In fact,” claims Bray, “we have never seen students so willing to engage in class.”
Critics of the school’s new endeavor suggest that allowing your child to play a video game all day in lieu of actual coursework is a gamble. Oakland PS29 assistant Principal Peter Hendrickson questions the practice. “Proof that playing Angry Birds for 5 hours a day will be developmentally beneficial could take years to determine, and that’s just not practical.”
Paul Herning, however, from the Acclaim Child Development Center sees it differently. “I think this is the most innovative and creative teaching mechanism I’ve seen in years. Hats off to OAAS for thinking outside the box!”
Bray agrees there is some risk involved in exchanging 5 standard subjects for a single Angry Birds class, but she is also taking caution not to move ahead too quickly. “We won’t automatically renew the program without testing our students first to see how well they’ve learned from this experiment, or how quickly they can execute their way through the package. If my students can’t successfully demonstrate the physics of flinging birds from a slingshot at the end of the semester then obviously this program isn’t working. But I have faith in my kids that they will be successful in this class. Very successful.”