Visit the fourth-grade classroom of Mr. Rodenbush and you will see a large, multi-level game board that is the center of an exciting social studies unit and experience called the World Peace Game. The World Peace Game is a hands-on, political simulation, created by renown educator John Hunter, that gives fourth-grade students an opportunity to explore how our world is linked through economic, social, and environmental connections. Working in teams that represent countries, students reenact the types of scenarios that exist in our very own world – from economic crises to natural disasters to conflicts over values and resources – they strive towards the goal of not only extricating their own country from these situations, but also towards working collaboratively with other countries to bring as much peace and prosperity to their simulated world as they can.
The experience of the World Peace Game puts children in situations that require them to think critically and strategically, listen carefully and consider perspectives other than their own. Anticipating the world they will inherit, the game helps them become problem-solvers.
Abi says, “I like the game and the way it connects to the real world. There are wars going on in the world, but in the World Peace Game we are trying to solve the problems causing the wars. We find out how to solve the problems so we can stop the wars before they happen, and we are helping each other and connecting the countries to one another in a good way.”
River adds, “I like that we get to work as a whole grade. The two classes work together, and we are all learning world problems and the kinds of things that can happen in the world. It’s important for us to learn about the world so we can know about it when we are older and help stop problems.”
The World Peace Game asks children to consider the types of problems the world faces and come up with creative strategies to new and unknown situations: just as they will need to be able to do as they live their lives and work towards the mission of our school which asks us all to “meet the challenges of a changing world and make it better.
Listening to Gabby describe her experience, it’s easy to see how the World Peace Game is helping our students do just that. Gabby states, “I think it’s fun that we get to learn about different types of problems that can happen in the real world. If I grow up and I become president or secretary of state then this game will help me understand what to do because I will have had an idea of what I could have done to solve these very serious problems.”