Day 3 of the World Peace Game in Memphis began with a coup d’etat. A Secretary of State decided that his country would be in a better position under his leadership rather than that of the current prime minister. The players rolled the die and the original regime fell. The former leader was exiled to another country and the new leader immediately began preparing to flex his newly acquired military muscle. When his country’s turn arrived, he announced he was ready to launch a nuclear attack. However, in his eagerness to take power, he forgot to secure the launch codes for his nuclear arsenal from the former leader who was now exiled, and had no way to accomplish his strategic plans. At the same time the idea of a staging a coup spread as cabinet members from other countries began plotting to overthrow their leadership as they grew frustrated that their voices and ideas weren’t being heard.
Over the course of Wednesday and Thursday, the students continued negotiations, teams realigned, leadership transitioned, and one group of deposed leaders joined forces to form a new nation and asked for UN recognition. (They made a brilliant move trading the desperately sought after launch codes for land of their own. A sense of altruism also began to emerge as players began making sacrificial moves in order to solve crises. By the end of yesterday, the player who initiated the initial coup d’etat realized he was what was standing in the way of world peace and abdicated his power. It was extraordinary to watch.
As adult observers, we looked for leadership (types and struggles), adjustment in collaboration, learning outcomes, and open space. I noticed how Mr. Hunter used his gift for listening and one-to-one communication to pull students aside and work with them as they struggled through the negotiation process. John plays to his strengths. Additionally, the amount of open space John gives his students is impressive. They make their own decisions. He lets them take risks. He later admitted that the students often make choices in the game that he doesn’t agree with, but he let’s them do it anyway. I noticed he doesn’t feel like he has to rescue them.
In the Master Class on Wednesday, we debriefed with John for a few minutes then spent time exploring our strengths, fears, and shoulds as teachers. (The shoulds are the internal and external expectations we have to cope with as teachers.) We identified them on sticky notes and posted them in the room for all to see. Then, we did a “gallery walk” so that we could read what everyone had written. We then discussed them as a group and spent some time categorizing what we listed. We also took time to watch the World Peace movie as not everyone in our cohort had seen it. (I’ve now seen it 4 times and discover something new each time I view it.) As homework, we received a visual to help us consider the philosophies, teacher roles, hard limits, and expectations that hold bearing on the game (teaching and learning). Our assignment was to think about our own teaching, consider the factors at work, and begin imagining what our own “game” might be.
After our short debriefing during Thursday’s class, John spent a few minutes talking with us about learning outcomes and assessment. I appreciate how he develops the assessment in partnership with the students and there is a major component of self-assessment and conferencing with each student. Then, we spent a few minutes imagining our “perfect teacher selves.” Then, we paired up and shared it with a partner and began asking each other hard questions about how we can grow into or become that ideal teacher. It was a deeply personal experience but one shared with a new, supportive colleague. Each pair then took turns introducing to the group the ideal version of their partner. The exercise was somewhat emotional but incredibly validating as we began the journey toward our ideals. The day ended with time spent relaxing and enjoying each other’s company.