World Peace Game Week 1. They Have What It Takes

Hello and welcome to the new weekly blog from Mr. Hladek and Coach Joe about the World Peace Game! You’ll hear from each of us on here, depending on the week. In addition to the blog, we will be podcasting each week to discuss the game with each other and even interview some students along the way. We hope you all enjoy this inside look into what, in our opinion, is one of the most impactful couple of months in fourth grade. We also hope you, and the other teachers, notice the importance each of their other classes plays on the success of this game. These young leaders are using math and language arts skills to budget and write legible peace treaties. They’re using multicultural understanding from world studies classes, scientific problem solving and their knowledge of interstellar technology to break down complex issues concurrent with our place and time. And they’re certainly using breathing and stress relief techniques from Brainology to center themselves and gather their inner strength to move forward in the face of an overwhelmingly wide ranging set of interactions. Heck, they’re even using their abilities to harmonize and work as a team in music classes to find the proper pitch with which to hold productive discussions with their peers. Is that a stretch? Maybe, but we can justify anything with the right words, right? Anyway, we just want to give props where they are due, because without the entire curriculum up to this point the game would never be as successful as it is.

It’s a difficult thing, this game. There is no simple answer. No obvious solution. No singular path with which to follow. There are contradictions and compromises. Your friends become enemies, and of course the enemy of your enemy is your friend, at least until the next crisis. There is also no guidebook for a teacher who lives to mentor and advise. Or one with the heart of a child who loves to solve puzzles and play games. There is no manual for documentation above intervention, and unfortunately at times for Coach Joe and myself (it’s Luke today, by the way), we both tend to thrive as buoys in a storm. So when a student is pulling his or her hair out, sitting in a corner, or surprisingly arguing with an ally, it’s tough on each of us to interview instead of interfere. That said, it only took a single game day to realize what we already knew: the kids have what it takes. They’re so much stronger than we often give them credit, and given the opportunity they have the ability to solve complex problems seemingly well beyond the scope of a nine year old mind. With the obvious exceptions of mental and emotional developmental appropriateness, most of the time the biggest problem is us. We want to step in and solve, not because we necessarily want to fix everything for them, but because we care. We want to help. We’re all, parents and teachers, in this because we have a natural inclination to care for something beyond ourselves. So we do it, and we convince ourselves it’s because they need it. After all, they do get upset if they don’t get their way or if someone so much as disagrees with them. But don’t we all?

I guess I should mention what this game is all about, huh? As you can see I struggle to be succinct, so I’m really going to try and give you the elevator pitch here. Joe is much more well versed in the gameplay and layout, anyway, so maybe I’ll let him jump in next time to clarify parts I skipped. See what I mean? It took me like 60 words to say I’m going to be brief…

The World Peace Game is a political simulation developed by John Hunter, an educator in Virginia, based around the idea of using education to promote peace and healthy solutions to world problems. Within the game, there are four main countries and two ethnic tribes living within the largest country. Each has it’s own unique and diverse histories, as well as individualized political philosophies and economic priorities. Some are environmentalists and explorers; some are military giants; and some are technological innovators. Among these groups are inevitable clashes called crises that must be solved in order to finally attain world peace. Think of Model UN meets Risk meets Dungeons and Dragons. It’s awesome. Most students are assigned roles within the game with a handful (eight this year) of students left as ‘At Large’ unaligned players. The first day, the six world leaders are tasked with building their cabinet or finding their ‘right hand’. Once this is complete, each group is given a secret ‘Dossier’ with all stats and histories (THANK YOU, COACH JOE!), as well as the crisis list. Yadda, yadda, yadda, we kick the game off and you know what breaks lose.

I’m going to close this week’s post (and maybe every post?) with some memorable quotes from this week’s game. As we mention in the podcast, Joe and I are so excited to talk about this game that we just want to get it started. We will find our footing over the course of the game, so please bear with us while we figure out how to tell this truly amazing story about these exceptional kids.

“They’re launching terrorist attacks on our country, so I’d like to do anything I can to get back at them.” -Emma

“Wait, wait, wait, we have to look at the other side of the picture (perspective) too.” -Payton

“We’re not shaking on it yet!” -Richard

“Hey thanks for making me a leader because now South McKalcia and Lochland are trying to bomb us!” -Jack S.

“I love this game!” -Brooklynn

Thanks, everyone! Here is the link to our podcast on Soundcloud. You should be able to download it or stream it as you’d like. We’re going to try and keep them in and around 10 (this one is a little longer) minutes so you can listen with the kids and hopefully have a few laughs.

All the best,

-Luke and Joe