As I'm writing this, the Pirates are in the process of blowing yet another game. They had the lead entering the ninth inning and then their once-vaulted relief pitcher gave up a tying home run, sending the game into extra innings. This is the fourth game in the past week that the Pirates have lost or almost lost in the final minutes, and at least the 10th this season. Their starting pitcher performs a solid seven innings, and then the relievers, the same group who made the Top of the Ninth feel like a coronation each game last season, manage to ruin it. And yet, day after day, the same thing keeps happening. The same good pitchers are taken out, the same bad ones are put in, and the same results occur. Everyone knows baseball is a game of adjustments, and this team is making few.
Additionally, I saw the film Edge of Tomorrow last week which tells the story of Tom Cruise's character who's stuck in a time loop and keep replaying the same futuristic battle each day until he completes it perfect. The movie combined The Matrix, Groundhog's Day, and even some Super Metroid in order to create a compelling story that actually felt a lot like a video game. In fact, the movie is an excellent reminder of why video games are such a great model for learning and motivation. In both video games, and game-based learning, players/learners will try multiple times to solve a complex problem and advance to new levels and challenges. Sometimes simple adjustments work and other times the players need to try entirely new techniques. This is one element of my game-based class I need to improve for next year: there needs to be a stronger narrative and more complex challenges which naturally draw in players, rather than simply relying on the promise of more XP (experience points).
Of course, this leads to the third incarnation of Groundhog's Day...summer itself. Summer is both excellent and empty as each day essentially begins the same way. Each day I wake up, walk the dogs, eat a bagel...and then, with no clear job or responsibilities, I have the choice to use the day wisely or waste it. Will I transcribe some interviews, or watch Netflix? Will I drive to Cincinnati to see the Pirates, or simply mow the grass? Will I attend three graduation parties for dinner, or simply go find a McDonald's dinner box? Regardless, at the end of each day, the cycle resets, and I'll wake up the next day with the same choices. And while that's exciting, in many ways it's a lot of responsibility. While I don't have to justify my time to anyone this summer, when September rolls around, I'm going to look back on the past three months and think "well done, Self!" or "wow...what a waste...". Aren't we all?
So teachers and students, enjoy your Groundhog's Day break. Hopefully by the end, you'll be able to win this game.
Update: Ok, so the Pirates ended up coming back to win...with a walk-off walk. Still...