"The Frag" is a life skills course which runs in Rotherham, UK. It was set up by a priest named the Reverend John Wright, who left parish ministry in an attempt to pursue his work with disaffected teens at severe risk of dropping out of school. The guiding principle behind the course's work is to allow young people to engage with educational content in a manner in which they can understand -- through video games.
And this isn't a case of poor quality "edutainment" games being used in the classroom -- participants at The Frag play commercial multiplayer shooter games together and use the skills they learn in the game to extend their educational experiences in other directions. The young gamers may put together projects about teamwork and working together; review games; develop hint sheets; or write FAQs for other players. They also have the opportunity to gain official information technology qualifications, allowing them to leave the course with a tangible, recognized qualification -- something which their disaffected experience in mainstream education may have denied them.
"How do you get people to learn what they need to learn, to learn it independently, to keep going when they get it wrong, and to eventually get to the point where they feel competent and enjoy it?" asks Wright. "They are the educational holy grails, and games have got so much to teach us."
The project's been having a positive effect, too -- Wright tells the story of a teen whom had been something of a tearaway at school, but following his time at The Frag had subsequently ended up in post-compulsory education with plans to move on to university.
"When I asked what impact The Frag had had, he said it was the place he learnt how to learn," said Wright. It's just one of many success stories the project has seen over the years.
But the project is vulnerable to budget cuts, like so many projects for young people. Despite its quantifiable successes, dwindling local funds put it at risk -- as gaming PCs don't come that cheap. Wright hopes that it will continue, however, and he's very clear on the project's goal.
"The mission of The Frag is not to make gaming acceptable to other people," he says. "It's to use gaming as a tool to reach people. Every time I go into college and bump into a kid from The Frag who had been written off, and now he's doing his [post-compulsory education qualifications], I see justice. And the Kingdom of God is about justice."
Find out more about The Frag via its official website.
Source: Church Times (print).
This article originally appeared on GamePro.com as Gaming Project Helps Inspire Disaffected Teens Back into Education through Shooters