North Wind And Sun

Super Smash Brothers and experimental teaching

Posted in College by Ricardo Bilton on 21-August-2008

Oberlin College, it seems, at one point offered a course called Super Smash Brothers Melee Theory and Practice. Here the course description:

This course will teach students the basic, intermediate and advanced combat techniques in the video game Super Smash Brothers Melee for the Nintendo Gamecube. This course will also provide in depth lectures and discussions involving many controversial issues concerning video games in our society today such as censorship, stereotyped characters, addiction, and gaming as an evolving art form. Gamecubes, televisions and controllers will be provided by the instructors. Gamers and non-gamers are welcome and encouraged to take this course. Classes will meet for two and a half hours each week-one and a half hours during regularly scheduled discussion and class time, and one hour outside regular class time as a practicum to practice and refine skills.

Oberlin College, located in Oberlin, Ohio, offers the course as a part of its student-run Experimental College program, whose goal, according to its charter is ” to provide members of the Oberlin community with the opportunity to share in educational alternatives not available in the area.” In order words, ExCo, as it’s called, gives students the chance to teach courses that are are a bit too unconventional (or, say, absurd) for the traditional teaching curriculum.

It’s easy to scoff at the silliness of it all, but there is certainly some merit to the experimental teaching approach, especially when it gives students themselves the ability to teach something they are comfortable with. Teaching any skill, even something as seemingly-wasteful as video games is as much of a learning process as taking any kind of class.

Other notable past offerings include (but are surely not limited to) “The Simpsons: A Cultural and Philosophical Perspective, Calvin and Hobbes ExCo, and Love is Understanding: The Truth About the Monkees.”

A listing of the ExCo’s offerings up to Fall of 2007 can be found here.


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