Crawley teacher makes tough subjects fun using video game craze

Chris McGivern, a teacher at Southgate Primary is using characters from the Japanese phenomenon and Nintendo 3DS game YO-KAI WATCH to help broach serious issues with his pupils - picture submitted
Chris McGivern, a teacher at Southgate Primary is using characters from the Japanese phenomenon and Nintendo 3DS game YO-KAI WATCH to help broach serious issues with his pupils - picture submitted

A Crawley teacher has been using characters of a Japanese computer game to teach children about real world issues.

Chris McGivern at Southgate Primary uses the Nintendo 3DS game YO-KAI WATCH to help broach real world issues such as Brexit, cyber bullying or relationship break-ups.

Research by the UK games regulator UKIE. It said 75 per cent of children aged between 6 and 10 regularly play videogames.

Mr McGivern decided to find a way to bring this passion into his classroom and his classes now regularly feature characters children love, including faces from Nintendo’s child-friendly games like Mario, and children’s television show characters like Peppa Pig.

He uses situations and characters to help discussion, reporting classes are more motivated to debate different issues. He says children are instantly more able to talk things through calmly, question why something might have happened and then consider the solution.

The school recently trialled Japanese phenomenon YO-KAI WATCH® in lessons.

Arriving in the UK earlier this year, it has fast become a playground craze with an animated television series on Cartoon Newtork and range of toys from Hasbro.

For Mr McGivern, the appeal lay in its use of Japanese folklore, where the characters create a world children can grasp.

Each character is based on in issue real children worry about, such as competing against a friend, a trait present in ‘Blazion’; family arguments personified in ‘Dismarelda’; or being the subject of gossip shown in ‘Tattletell’.

Southgate Primary’s work builds on The Department of Education’s recent guidance on children’s mental health and wellbeing.

Leading child development and play expert, Dr Amanda Gummer, who is involved in helping with government policy regarding children.

She said: “By disguising a lesson in play, children have fun as well as learn. They relax and become more open to talking about what they think and how they feel. This trick can be a useful tool for parents and teachers as it’s easier to properly engage a child with a subject that might have been difficult to discuss, were it not for the playful distraction.’