What makes games easier to learn is a familiarity with the mechanics played in one game that show up in another. Expanding on this idea, what makes games easier to design is a familiarity with the types of tools designers can use. I like the idea of teaching young students the basics of mechanics. For example, a dedicated class to card drafting could be built around the current subjects being covered in another class. I don’t think the class would have to be long, just 15 or 20 minutes where students can get together and experience mechanics at works. Simple seeing cards move around a group and learning the importance of one card over another.
Students can experience the motivations for drafting one card over another. Students would not have to fully understand what is going on, but the facts that they are exposed to the mechanic is setting the groundwork to help students design games in the future. Another huge benefit of this is the social interaction these mini classes provides. I would hope that the walls of unfamiliarity might be lowered just a little bit if students were able to interact in these situations and the shortness of these classes would allow for a good rotation of different students in different groups.
I can see a potential problem being the lack of understanding of what is going on. Depending on what age the students are, I think this problem can be avoided. A potential fix for this would be to have mini games designed, potentially by other students. Give a little bit of theme and context to the mechanic you want students to learn and the message might sink in a little better.
If you have any ideas on how games can make great educational tools, please share them in the comments section or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org