We can get creative and devise educational ways to use Pokémon, but if we are solely focusing on the App, and forgetting that there is more depth to this than just the Pokémon Go Version, we could be missing big opportunities to go beyond the fad. In order to “educationally weaponize” something like Pokémon, we need to know the background, who are the characters, what they do, how they are different, what they like and dislike about one another, what they look like, what they wish, and how they use their skills. Attempting to use Pokémon for educational purposes by solely looking at the geographical and statistical features the Pokémon Go App showcases will cause us to only scratch the surface of its potential.
I was about to become a University student when Pokémon was released. While I was not fascinated by the Game Boy version, I was certainly drawn to the manga version and the cards. Now, as I look back at the decks of cards I initially helped my cousins collect, I could only wish I had already started teaching languages so that I could use them. Fact of the matter is, back in 1996, the habit of looking for teaching ideas on the Internet or for Gamified activities was not so widespread. Luckily for me, I have a good memory.
I wonder if it’s a pity that Pokémon Go came out in the summer when schools (at least in the northern hemisphere) could not take advantage of the momentum and employ it at school, or whether it was a good thing so that players of all ages could enjoy it in its element. I am personally thankful that it came out in the summer, because it allowed me to learn about it with the people with who I would use it, and for whom I would create learning scenarios: children. Yes, I do feel that sometimes ignoring children’s contribution to a movement such as this, and depriving them from the opportunity to teach the adults, can turn learning experiences into insipid moments of fabricated pedagogy.
Thus, I spent a few days with my nephews and their friends sharing my Pokémon stories, asking and answering questions, and engaging in dialogue about our experience with this App that allowed our generations to have a meeting point for leisure and enjoyable learning. So here are the minutes from my Pokémon adventures with these young fellows, a summary of things they thought they would enjoy doing at school:
Please note that these ideas DO NOT refer to Pokémon Go, but can enrich the experience of using Pokémon Go in the classroom.
Ideas for Language:
a) Pokémon Trainer
– What are the skills a Pokémon trainer needs?
b) Pokémon Gym Leader:
– What are the skills a Pokémon Gym Leader needs?
– How is a Pokémon Gym Leader different from a Pokémon Learner?
c) Pokémon and their skills
(Pokémon is both used as singular and plural)
– What does X look like?
– Where can X be found?
– What does X Pokémon evolve from/into?
– Against which Pokémon can I use to battle?
- Write a letter informing someone s/he is ready to become a Pokémon Trainer.
- Write a letter of application explaining why you are suitable to become a Pokémon Gym Leader.
- Devise a rubric to indicate the characteristic features and skills needed to become a Pokémon Gym Leader.
- Write a response letter (acceptance or rejection) for applicants.
- Participate with a classmate in a role play to simulate a interview for becoming a Pokémon Trainer / Gym Leader.
- Create infomercials to sells items needed for Pokémon battles/ training.
- What if Pokémon became criminals were caught and ran away from prison? Write wanted notices, and provide details for ransom.
- Write speeches in favor or against Pokémon as pets?
- Writing short stories using specific Pokémon in specific locations and circumstances.
- Write or talk about comparisons of Pokémon and historical figures or mythological creatures.
Ideas for biology or geography.
- Take a walk around the school and stop at different points (garden, fountain, park, etc.) and have students design a Pokémon considering the natural features of the place. Students make indicate the Pokémon’s skills, their strengths, and their weaknesses.
- The same thing can be done with biomes, as a result of chemical reactions (Hulk?)
- Controlling Pokémon population in certain territories?
- Alternative ways to classify Pokémon.
- Would there be places on earth or the universe to mine stardust or Pokémon candies?
Ideas for ethics.
- Could Pokémon powers be learned/acquired? Who should regulate this: government? Religion?
- What would a Pokémon zoo look like? How would people experience it?
- When would a Pokémon be an endangered species?
- How could you combat Pokémon poaching?
- What would initiatives against experimentation on Pokémon defend?
- Could Pokémon cause people to develop adoration of fake Gods? (Quite debatable one)
- What if humans attempted to use Pokémon stardust or candies? Would this be similar to using drugs?
- What would a mix of humans and Pokémon look like? Like an evolution of MewTwo?
Ideas for Design Technology:
- How to construct improved Poké balls? What would we need and why? What would the specifications be?
- Constructing cages to capture the strongest Pokémon. What would we need and why? What would the specifications be?
- Creative thinking- how to design Pokémon traps.
Ideas for Physical Education:
- Design (fake) programs to become Pokémon trainers or Gym Leaders.
- Designing training charts depending on the Pokémon one wants to train.
- Use mathematics in a Pokémon Olympiads. Look at speed, force, etc.