I’m still waiting for my own copy of “Don’t Bother Me Mom – I’m Learning”, but in the meantime I have borrowed a colleagues copy. Flipping through it I found this gem on page 55:
With only a few “nerdy” exceptions – chess, go, strategy games, Dungeons and Dragons – our games were generally devoid of any great importance, meaning, or learning. In other words, they were trivial. … Learning from games , if there was any, was mostly limited to trivia.
Now consider how much learning is involved in playing Monopoly – arithmetic from counting the money, strategy (which properties should I buy?), physical and verbal social interaction and lots more. Playing snakes’n’ladders? Rudimentary arithmetic, physical and verbal social interaction, first hand experience with real world physics (look at that dice roll!), turn-taking. Playing with toy figures? Playing snap or other simple card games?
These all have real learning potential. It is one thing to big up the learning achieved in digital games, but to say that non-digital games had no (or next to no) learning involved is frankly ridiculous. I haven’t read it myself, and developmental psychology is not my native research area, but a quick web search located this interesting looking book on learning and play.