In approaching the crossroads of knowledge, there is an important pre-conception that both teacher and student must understand. That is, the difference between ‘out of the box’ thinking and ‘boxed-in’ thinking is all about how we approach the box and its surroundings. Creative and critical thinking is partly based on the socialization of masks that we wear, which help us act out our external selves. These masks change the dynamic of both our self-expression and how others perceive us within a given context. As a result, our social masks change our perception of the box, and therefore, the solutions we apply when faced with challenges that must be overcome.

This is an important concept. Every person entering a crossroad of social-tacit engagement wears a mask that acts as a template for how others engage with us. Teacher, student, actors, and agents. We all enact these personas through outward appearance and perceptions of sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and tactile inputs. Interactions that don’t fit the template can cause stress, conflict, disengagement, or apathy which is detrimental to the learning process.

Consider how these masks both change the moment and us. How we approach and interact with family differs from colleagues. Our participation in sports and recreation contrasts with community activism. Our engagement in topics, such as politics, religion, and sex all drive us towards different states of being because the mask changes, filters, and transforms experience.

Setting the environment for transformative learning implies that the instructor must help to guide the student in approaching those crossroads with a mask that benefits the learning experience. It does not benefit either the mentor-student, or peer-to-peer, relationships if the student is wearing a mask inappropriate to the learning situation. You can’t play King Lear if you are wearing the mask of Falstaff. It is disruptive, not only to the student’s ability to learn, but to all the other relationships which depend on those social interactions.

Whether we are the king or the fool, the consistency of our social templates form a basis from which we, as our avatars, play the game of learning and derive the most benefit. Gamification allows us to richly manage the masks we wear and their accompanying social perspectives. Gamification permits opportunities for adaptation so that both teacher and students may easily incorporate new situations that promote critical and creative thinking. By visually reinforcing positive patterns of perception and socialization, new patterns of successful behaviours can allow for easier retention, greater breadth of experience, and deeper understanding, whatever your box needs to be.

— Kevin Feenan

Leave a Reply