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Learning and boardgames: A practical-theory workshop based on gestalt pedagogy

10.3.2016 @ 14:00 - 19:00

By Hayo Siemsen

Workshop 2016, University of Helsinki, Department of Education

Is learning linear, a fixed amount of contents taught in a fixed amount of time, or is it exponential, like growth processes in nature? Exponential learning is possible, if one learns as close a possible to sensual perception and the natural development of neuronal processes. Then, “intuition” and “Gestalt” become central. But these are difficult to access with “conscious cognitive” approaches. One effective and efficient way is to use one of the oldest methods of learning in nature: playing games. Especially board and cardgames can serve as explicit models, are easy to adapt and have a large range of modern, very well developed mechanisms ready to be utilized.

Nevertheless, many people have made the experience that “pedagogical games” tend to be “very boring”, because they are bad games developed by well-meaning pedagogues. In order to develop a good game, top game authors often needed many years of training. This cannot be easily replicated by an in-service pedagogue. But what if one takes the best games in the world, those which are sold best or score highest on boardgamegeek.com? What if one adapts them for pedagogical purposes, working with the best game authors? With a gestalt based pedagogy, it then becomes possible to teach “adult” games (12 years +) to small children (2-3 years) in such a way, that they become as good in the games as adults within a few weeks. Learning, even of “difficult” topics, such as mathematics, then becomes “easy”. Three year old children can add up to 300, get an intuition on stochastics and exponentiality; problems in school, such as Dyscalculia and Dyslexia can “disappear”; all students can become “good” or “very good”, etc. Modern cooperative games are fun and can teach an alternative about ethics relative to zero-sum games.

The author is adapting and empirically testing games with students at the University of Education in Heidelberg, University of Vienna and Masaryk University in Brno. The first games are now being published. The workshop will provide an overview on the theory based on the gestalt pedagogy of Ernst Mach. The theory helps to develop cases and test them empirically. The participants will be able to use a large range of adapted games. Some of them will even be able to adapt new games. For this, the theory is introduced with its empirical implications. Examples are discussed from the range of already adapted games and how they can be combined in order to produce further exponential learning effects. The last part of the workshop will be used to practically play some of the games and learn them in the way, small children can learn them.

Time: March 2016


14:00-15:15 p.m.:                               Overview of Theory: Learning can be effective, efficient and fun

15:15-15:30 p.m.:                               Coffee break

15:30-16:45 p.m.:                              Discussion of examples of different types of learning with board and cardgames: How can three year old children add up to 300, etc.

16:45-17:00 p.m.:                               Coffee break

17:00-19:00 p.m.:                               Playing games genetically for learning (My first Bohnanza/ Bohnanza,

Ligretto, Monkey Business, Yahzee, Caverna, etc.)

For further information, see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LXZn5Kw3XsY (only in German). Hayo Siemsen is working on his habilitation on the pedagogy and erkenntnis-theory of Ernst Mach. He is currently teaching Gestalt Psychology, Empirical Pedagogy, Psychomathematics and Meta-methodology at the University of Education in Heidelberg.


14:00 - 19:00




Room K226 – Minerva Square, Faculty of Behavioural Sciences,University of Helsinki
Siltavuorenpenger 5A
Helsinki, Finland