CLACKAMAS, OREGON — "I want to apologize," Holly Denman, Director of Cascade Heights Public Charter School, said. "I am very sorry. We are playing this game because we have to. The adults have created the mess in this world and now we are going to leave it to you. You will have to use reason and intuition. You will fail, I guarantee that. This game is designed that way." Twenty five 4th graders listen intently and no one moves. The World Peace Game has begun.
The World Peace Game is a hands-on political simulation that gives players the opportunity to explore the connectedness of the global community through the lens of 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. As nation teams, students gain greater understanding of the critical impact of information and how it is used.
The game structure is a tower made of four 4' x 4' sheets of plexiglas threaded through five metal poles, one in each corner with a stabilizing pole in the center. Countries and land masses are made of colored paper. Everything relevant to the circumstances of each country is denoted through the game pieces. Items depicted include mountains and volcanoes, icy tundra, lakes, rivers, as well as bridges, oil, natural gas, mineral deposits, and sunken treasures buried in the oceans. Troops, tanks, air defense, and marine defense are allocated to each country in proportion to their wealth and developmental status. The game structure takes up almost a quarter of a typical classroom and needs to remain secure and undisturbed for the duration of gameplay.
The game is designed around higher order critical thinking, creative problem solving, collaboration, teamwork, and global stewardship. It's creator, John Hunter, native Virginian and graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University, is an award winning, gifted teacher who has dedicated his life to helping children realize their full potential. Since John Hunter gave his TEDtalk in March 2011, it has been viewed by over 569,000 people. Time magazine named John Hunter as one of "12 Educators to Watch in 2012" for his innovative and impactful teaching approach. John Hunter and the film, (name of film), have presented at the Pentagon, the United Nations, Google, Harvard, Georgetown, Aspen Ideas Festival and continue to be written about widely.
"I first heard of John Hunter's World Peace Game through the TEDtalk and couldn't get it out of my mind," Denman said. "The mission of our school is to prepare our students to enter the global society. The World Peace Game is excellent training ground."
Denman should know. She used her own money to travel to New Jersey last summer to join 25 educators from all over the world in a week of Master Classes with John Hunter himself. "We watched of group of students play the game in the mornings and in the afternoons as Mr. Hunter explained the theory and application of the game. Of the 1200 teachers he has trained, very few have accepted the challenge to actually take it home and play it. We are the first in Oregon and there are only twenty games being played worldwide."
"The first game we played was with our 4th graders last fall. By the sixth game day, they had only solved three crises and I was beginning to wonder if they could really do it. Then it happened, just like Mr. Hunter said it would. Everything fell together, they began to work and talk rationally instead of trying to blow everything up. I will be interested to see what 6th graders will do." Denman said. Cascade Heights' sixth graders will begin the game in March.
Cascade Heights is the only independent public charter school in North Clackamas school district. They enroll 226 children in K-8. Open since 2006, they are now in their 9th year of operation. Their mission is to educate the whole child, prepare children for a global society and partner with parents who share the same mission.