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World Peace Game

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The week of June 19 I was privileged to attend a master class on facilitating The World Peace Game. John Hunter is its creator, and he has facilitated this game for almost 40 years. He has taken his game to Europe, Asia, Africa and the Americas. A brief bit of background for those who are curious: this game is unique in its scope, implementation and outcome. John was my teacher at my master class, held in his hometown of Charlottesville, Virginia. I and about a dozen other teachers from all over the US observed 30 students ages 10 to 12 spend about 3 hours a day for one week attempting to achieve world peace. I thought that sounded like an awful lot to foist upon kids of this age. But, having witnessed the students try, fail, struggle, argue, collaborate, succeed (all repeatedly), and actually “win the game” (aka achieve world peace), I came away a believer in the kids’ ability to do great things.

The World Peace Game has 50 world crises that need to be solved, such as ethnic and religious tensions, refugee crises, land grabs, oil spills, a nuclear plant disaster, spy satellites, and war. Basically, the stuff of which we grownups are all too world-weary. The students’ “world” is a four-tier plexiglass tower: outer space, air space, ground/sea (where four countries and their disputed lands and seas are located) and under-sea. The crises are liberally sprinkled all over the taller-than-the-kids-are tower.

Perhaps, to seasoned veterans like us who’ve seen too many noble but failed attempts to solve these crises, it is impossible for kids to tackle this project. But, the magic of The World Peace Game is within the students. They are not imprinted with what we know. They are unfettered in their ideas, creativity, and most of all, pragmatism. They are the “secret” to winning The World Peace Game, and they don’t even know it when they begin! They learn as they go, failing, arguing, collaborating, encouraging, persevering and experiencing successes along the way. And, they discover their own brilliance, individually and collectively. As I mentioned before, kids can do great things.

-Trish Stripling, Middle School Social Studies Teacher

Posted by in Middle School Years, Classroom on Tuesday August, 22, 2017


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