How do we achieve world peace? Teaching local grade school children the skills necessary to solve geopolitical problems is an ambitious place to start. But that’s exactly what Terry Adams and her daughter Ele are planning to do, with a little help.
Terry is a professor in the Oregon State University College of Education and a former grade school teacher. Ele is about to be a senior at CHS. The two plan to introduce ground-breaking curriculum to fifth graders at Hoover Elementary School. Like all great learning tools, it is designed to be fun. The curriculum is the World Peace Game.
It is played on three boards and takes place on a fictitious planet. The main surface illustrates a political map of the world. Two transparent boards hang above, representing sky and space respectively.
Game pieces include army soldiers, planes, satellites, boats, and dozens more.
The players are assigned titles such as prime minister, secretary of state, United Nations officer, World Bank executive, tribal leader, and even king. Every child has a role and receives a secret dossier defining their duties and responsibilities within the framework of that specific game.
The players are forced to navigate through a complex set of crises which usually lack clear solutions. Students negotiate and cooperate with each in order to resolve the challenges. The game is over when all of the crises are resolved and the world within the game is at peace. Though peace must be achieved to win, combat and war are integral and often necessary tools within the game.
Unlike most board games, when this game ends, everyone is a winner.
The World Peace Game was developed by John Hunter almost 30 years ago. Hunter is a teacher and educational consultant in Charlottesville, Virginia. He is also an accomplished public speaker. He has given talks about his game at the United Nations, the Pentagon, on TED, and several times here in Corvallis. In January of this year, he spoke at the Majestic Theatre. He also previewed World Peace and Other 4th Grade Achievements. The documentary film demonstrates the powerful effect of his game on his students.
In the film, Hunter explained his goal in designing the elements of the game.
“I want it to be so thrilling that they don’t want to do without it, but so challenging that they almost can’t do it. The two contrasts, the two opposite things working together—for me, that kind of tension is where learning occurs.”
Terry has heard John Hunter speak four times now, and owns a copy of that DVD along with the book of the same name.
“The third time I got to hear him speak (with a fourth grade friend, who was quite inspired), I immediately started talking with local teachers to see who might want to include this project with their social studies/literacy/TAG curriculum.”
She began a journey that will conclude with her and Ele facilitating an eight-week game here in Corvallis.
The teacher sharing his fifth-grade classroom during the 2014-‘15 school year will be Matthew Criscione. With the blessing of Hoover Elementary Principal Bryan Traylor, the World Peace Game will commence here for an hour and a half once per week for eight weeks.
Ele will be excused from school at CHS during game sessions. It will be her senior project. She is just as excited as her mother to see the impact the game can have on kids.
“It could be a really positive influence in an area where people are already really green,” she said.
Terry and Ele still have to become trained to run the game. They will be attending a class in Menlo Park, California at the end of August. The cost of the class, travel, and materials is $5,000. Garage sales and a benefit concert got the ball rolling. Ele selflessly asked for donations in lieu of gifts for her recent 17th birthday. With organizational help from Veterans for Peace, the would-be teachers have raised $2,000 thus far. Terry and Ele will receive no payment leading up to or during the World Peace Game. Terry summed up her motivation for the project. “This game brings hope to many of us for finding peaceful, collaborative solutions to current global problems.”