Innovation - Also means Developing Innovative Thinking & Problem Solving - Not just Making Things

How John Hunter's "World Peace Game" is helping 4th grade children develop innovative critical thinking

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Inspiration:John Hunter's World Peace Game

John Hunter became one of favorite teachers, I wished I had, since I saw his Ted Talk and learn't about his World Peace Game. The World Peace Game for those do not know is a hands-on political simulation that gives players the opportunity to explore the connectedness of the global community through the lens of the economic, social, and environmental crises and the imminent threat of war. The goal of the game is to extricate each country from dangerous circumstances and achieve global prosperity with the least amount of military intervention. According to John, as “nation teams,” he believes that students gain greater understanding of the critical impact of information and how it is used.

Some of Core Principles of the game include:

- Contradictory elements can and should co-exist

- Deliberate creation of an overwhelming sense of diverse complexity or fostering, in other words…chaos

- Encouragement of complex problem solving in a collaborative situation

- Stimulate the development of empathy and compassion

- Promote the ability to hold and maintain multiple perspectives simultaneously, around an issue while withholding judgment

- Slowing down the problem solving process, provides:

  • Depth over time – Stimulation of and support for long term thinking
  • Increase in possible solutions
  • Richness (complexity)

- Promote critical thinking via:

  • Apprehending the natural inherent complexity and simplicity mixture
  • Directly engaging with complexity vs. avoiding or parsing
  • Promoting non-attachment to phenomena as useful tool

- The ability to cultivate and maintain acute problem solving skills over time

- Facilitate Self-Reflective awareness through Self-Evident Assessment (SEA) (internalized evaluation)

- Luxury to fail

- Flexibility

- Elaboration

Source and more core principles - Here

What I like about this - Potential Impat

- It is very innovative problem solving approach contrary to STEM project based learning. 

- It teaches how to think and not what to think.

- Children are let to figure it out themselves as opposed to teachers, telling them in advance.

- It breaks a BIG belief that- 4th graders can think BIG. - I am sure many would have ruled this out as impossible.

- The aftermath - What these 4th graders realize and talk about - Empathy, diverse thinking, not about who is right or wrong, - This to me is just mind blowing. Hat's off Mr. John Hunter.

The Challenge - How might we scale this/ replicate this?

As John puts it - "There is no paper manual…yet, but I have begun setting down a manual for a publisher, as it has existed only in my head all this time. Usually the game is passed on in a kind of oral tradition to generations of players at the beginning of every game. What I am finding is that many teachers and students around the world are taking it upon themselves to design their own game to develop critical and creative thinking, inspired by the World Peace Game and are evolving their own best game! This is wonderful and I encourage anyone to try it.

I have thought about open-sourcing the World Peace Game, or simply putting a basic manual out. I am concerned that without the core principles engendered by a careful, trained facilitator, the World Peace Game might devolve into “just another war game.” Simply putting the game-in-a-box for sale would not be viable due to its complexity.

There are many ideas being considered regarding the best way to make the game available to teachers and students around the world. Some of the considerations that we are wrestling with is that a boxed game could stifle the creativity and ability of teachers to develop games themselves, going through the many design steps involved in designing learning."

The challenges for the facilitator as Mr John Hunter himself puts it

Teacher / Facilitators who wish to use the game must:

    know their particular group of students very well, as the game is entirely based upon relationships;

    must be able to foster and watch without interfering to allow opportunities for failure of the students at first, and then to ultimately achieve success;

    be able to not know or understand just what the students are doing for a time, but have an intuitive understanding of their intent and discern how best to facilitate that intent;

    be able to create new parameters / rules / procedures as needed to deepen learning suddenly;

    be able to cede control of the classroom direction to the students while maintaining teacher-student collaboration, or in other words, to lead without leading;

    I love this brilliant idea and I am sure a lot of people would agree with as well. I wanted to make sure we capture this idea here, and would be interested in collaborating with people who have had the pleasure with the game to see how might we try to replicate something like this.

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Future City


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