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Outrage over 'World of Warcraft' high school

Outrage over 'World of Warcraft' high school

Published: 03 Sep 2011 11:47 GMT+02:00
Updated: 03 Sep 2011 11:47 GMT+02:00

A Stockholm-area high school has come in for stinging criticism after a spot inspection revealed students playing World of Warcraft for hours uninterrupted and using an X-Box gaming console with a dance mat as a substitute for gym class.

The school also had a lack of qualified teachers for a number of subjects, according to a report from the the Swedish Schools Inspectorate (Skolinspektionen) which blasted the school on a number of points.

An anonymous report led the inspectorate to come and visit the Digital Room (Digitala rummet), a high school programme targeting school-weary kids, at the Ross Tensta Gymnasium, located north of Stockholm.

There they discovered the students were playing the computer game World of Warcraft for most of the school day, largely unconnected to any school subject.

The students' education was undertaken partly through World of Warcraft, where the teacher and students interacted in part via their online identities, known as avatars, and party via online message service Skype.

"The Schools Inspectorate wishes to emphasise that students' gaming for their own entertainment cannot be part of the education," wrote the inspectorate in their report.

"When you start up a new project, you can't get everything right at once," said Ross Tensta's principal Inger Nyrell to daily newspaper Expressen.

She denied that students have spent half the day playing computer games for fun.

"That isn't our perception."

The programme, which started in September 2010, is designed to attract teens who were tired of school, and spend their days playing computer games at home instead.

The idea being behind the programme was to allow the students to be taught the necessary school subjects via computer games, including World of Warcraft.

"This was a project created to get students who wouldn't have been in school otherwise, to come to school. That's why we got permission to start it," said Nyrell.

However, the inspectorate has taken a closer look at the school's unusual teaching method, and concluded that it fails to provide adequate education through World of Warcraft.

The Digital Room is also lacking qualified maths, media and gym teachers.

Instead, students were equipped with a dance mat connected to an X-Box gaming console, so they could move a bit during gym class. This also proved insufficient to reach course goals, concluded the Schools Inspectorate.

In the wake of the report, Ross Tensta Gymnasium has announced it plans to recruit more qualified teachers for the fall term.

The Swedish Schools Inspectorate are also concerned that none of the students that are at risk of failing have been given an action plan to ensure they can achieve passing marks.

In addition, there appears to be a fair amount of confusion at the school, regarding what sort of high school programme the Digital Room is.

Whilst the school's principle touts it as an individual programme, fashioned for teens who are unable to complete elementary school with the necessary grades, students with whom Schools Inspectorate officials spoke believed they were taking a social science program.

"Our visit showed that it's hard to ensure that this education is good and optimal for the students," wrote the inspectorate.

Inger Nyrell admits there are faults, but states that matters are improving.

"It takes some time to build up a new project," she said.

The Swedish Schools Inspectorate have given the city of Stockholm until October 17 to announce what measures they have taken to improve educational quality.

Clara Guibourg (clarabara@hotmail.com)

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Your comments about this article

12:36 September 3, 2011 by jamesblish
Lemme guess, it's a private school?
13:20 September 3, 2011 by Abe L
Ironically most kids would kill for a school like this.
13:32 September 3, 2011 by Kibitz
Looks like this school has thrown the towel in and given up altogether on trying to educate these students. One has to wonder if these students curriculum would have been negleted in this manner had had they been in a area where students are less likely immigrant?
14:01 September 3, 2011 by hughknows
How ridiculous a school feels it necessary to 'attract' kids to school with entertainment, kids who they know are willfully not attending. Surely the government should handle something as serious as ongoing truancy - the police or social services step in. It seems to me the high school loses money if a student on the register does not keep a minimum attendance and they want to keep their budget up.

@kibitz - probably a chicken-egg thing really, as areas like Tensta which are more 'likely immigrant' as you say and have socio-economic challenges of all kinds, pose more problems for schools which overwhelm them and lead to such neglect... Governments should both throw more resources at schools in these areas and demand results from management.

By the way - @ The Local: Well done on some originality. I see instead of two blonde girls in a nightclub in an apparently-staged lesbian kiss which you seem to just happen to have every single week as your gallery thumbnail, you have a blonde and an Asian girl. Amazing. ;)
16:49 September 3, 2011 by just a question
This happens in public schools too. Students have the cell phone on and if the teachers tell them to not use it, they will ignore the teacher and continue using it anyway.
17:32 September 3, 2011 by StockholmSam
If these "school weary" kids were in normal schools, they would not be doing any better and would probably be disrupting the learning of the better students. I don't want taxes funding this type of school but neither do I want these kids forced into a school where they will negatively impact more motivated students and motivated teachers. In the end, I have no idea what to do because I also don't want them running wild in the streets with spraypaint or worse. Perhaps they should simply be given brooms and shovels and a job.
20:00 September 3, 2011 by Douglas Garner
I am with you, Sam. But with a little effort, gaming could be specifically designed to achieve educational goals. There are a ton of great educational games on the net. Selecting the right targets for each child will be a bit challenging (I would love to see the IEPs that come from this).

If anyone is interested, I have put up a site just to direct kids to fun and educationally directed free programs on the net.

https://sites.google.com/site/iesggarner/home
20:42 September 3, 2011 by calebian22
In five years you will see them retaking their gymnasium level courses because they finally have realized that they actually need an education to have a good life.
23:42 September 3, 2011 by jamesblish
Not really, education gets you nowhere in this country. The ones who are the best off are the folks with trade high school diplomas. Zero work, good job market and decent pay.
08:08 September 4, 2011 by StockholmSam
Calebian22 is right. Many lazy kids are late bloomers who eventually come to see the value of an education. When they return to studies, they often out-perform their younger peers because they are more mature, more aware, and also because they feel pressure to catch up.
09:04 September 4, 2011 by J. L. Belmar
They are studying how to harass and kill people plus how to burn schools and cars in parking lots and they will get a diploma for it. Good for them. The CEOs of the future.
21:18 September 4, 2011 by Tysknaden
In some parts of Stockholm you most likely don't need a computer for playing "World of Warcraft".
21:20 September 4, 2011 by soultraveler3
The education system here is turning in to a joke.

Who's the genius that allowed WoW to even be brought in to the school? It's scary to think that people put in charge of a school could think that this was okay. Where are the parents in this mess? Who would allow their children to stay enrolled in a school where this sort of thing passes for education?

Jamesblish has a very valid point as well. A majority of the time, people with blue-collar jobs in Sweden make just as much money than white-collar workers, often they make more. The teacher I had in SFI studied for years at uni to become a teacher and she earns a third of what her brothers do, one is a plumber and the other is a carpenter. That was just an example, but you can see why many young people might not care.
07:21 September 6, 2011 by isenhand
@hughknows

The schools have to attract kids with such "sexy" subjects to get the kids in so the school can make their profits. Similar things happen at college level and in the private Universities (but not nearly as bad) (based on my observations from working in the academic world). I've noticed the university where I live has to offer a base year in science as too many kids choose "sexy" subjects at college and then don't have the qualifications to do the degree they want so have to do an extra year at university.

So I think we have hear a extreme case of a general problem.
11:02 September 9, 2011 by Da Goat
Leave the poor kids alone they were busy learning to be Norwegian labour party exterminators!

they are learning to be elite assassins like mr brevik!

perhaps the best solution would be to give them the real thing and they will self solve the problem!

violent games can not be good for young minds ! or your country, as there is enough children with sick minds now, already!
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