Primary school children will be told to play Nintendo before classes in the morning as part of a drive to improve their learning ability.
A 20-minute burst of the 'brain training' exercises on Nintendo's DS console at the start of the day apparently improves performance in maths tests by as much as 10 per cent, according to a Scottish study.
The scheme, backed by Scottish education authorities, will be introduced across 16 schools following a pilot in Dundee which found that a daily session of Nintendo's 'More Brain Training with Dr Kawashima' game improved students' concentration and behaviour, as well as their maths results.
If the trial is successful, the £120 console – which David James once blamed for breaking his concentration in front of goal – may be introduced more widely as a learning aid. Learning and Teaching Scotland (LTS), the body responsible for curriculum development, said.
“The initial pilot project that used the Nintendo DS and Dr Kawashima produced fascinating results," Derek Robertson, a development officer for 'games-based learning' at the LTS, said.
“Not only was there a marked and significant improvement in attainment in mental maths but there was also an improvement in concentration levels, behaviour and self regulation in the learning process.”
Over a 10-week period, students in years 5 and 6 at St Columba's Primary played a series of 'brain training games' – including reading tests, problem-solving exercises, and memory puzzles – for 20 minutes in the morning when classes began.
In a maths test at the end of the trial, their performance improved by an average 10 per cent, and the time to complete the test also dropped from 17 minutes to 13 minutes and nine seconds.
Some children halved the time it took to complete the test while either maintaining or improving their score, the study found.
The scheme will now be widened to 16 schools in the Western Isles, Dundee, East Ayrshire and Aberdeenshire, where students will take part in another 10 week trial, observed by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Education and researchers at the University of Dundee.
LTS has bought 480 Nintendo DS consoles at a cost of £34,000, which will be distributed to students in the morning when classes start and collected when the exercises are completed.
The students will not be allowed to take the devices home.
"LTS is committed to exploring and developing new technology to support learning and teaching in the 21st century," Mr Robertson said.
"Game-based learning can provide dynamic and culturally relevant contexts that engage, motivate and challenge today’s young learner.
In 1997, David James, then the Liverpool goalkeeper, said the reason he'd let 3 goals through in a match against Newcastle United was because he had played too much Nintendo beforehand. "I was getting carried away playing Tekkon II and Teamraider for hours on end," he said.