The Pokemon Go thing has finally captured my attention. First I thought everyone had just seen an adorable or rabid bunny rushing past or hiding in a corner. Then I figured it was a Snapchat thing. A 19 year-old eventually explained that yes, everyone but I was in the loop and that I needed to pay closer attention.
The cheerful, chatty phlebotomist I met today also snuck four vials of blood out of my arm by distracting me with nonstop Pokemon talk. But he wasn’t interested in capturing the thingamajigs on his phone—yet. He was intrigued by how our local businesses are responding. On the one hand, some are drawing a line and putting their proprietary foot down with signs warning customers not to play inside of their stores. Others are welcoming customers at hosted periods of time to come into their stores and play at no charge. It’s the difference between doing something about it and doing something with it.
It will be intriguing to see how schools respond. I imagine that, as is often the case, some teachers and leaders will decide to do something restrictive about the popularity of this new thing, while others will do something with it while it’s still hot.
Businesses catching the Pokemon wave are instinctively building their brand and nurturing their culture by opening their minds/eyes/doors in this moment to see what is present for their customers. Businesses and schools which align themselves with the deep play in which their customers and students are engaged, build the kind of trust that creates sustainable partnerships. They look at their clients, their customers and their students and say “I see you.” And they don’t miss the moment.
In the coming months, some of the most intuitive teachers we know will be subtly embedding the current collective experience of Pokemon Go in their classrooms, on field trips and in examples and metaphors during instruction.
Our most effective teachers have always used what we love and care about to draw us into new learning. They invite us to play with ideas, theories, theorems and content by setting the stage, preparing the environment, using clay, crayons, music, iPads, school gardens, cooking, baseball-related word problems or Pokemon. It’s what some teachers have always done. They are the ones who open themselves up to meet their students where they are. They set the stage for our curiosity and excitement so that they might capture our imaginations where we are already deeply engaged in play.