Mar. 26th, 2012

Once upon a time, in my more evil days, I came up with an idea that I found entertaining.

The idea went a little like this: I ever ended up teaching in secondary school, I'd probably have to teach a transition year module; I'd call that module "Practical politics". I'd make a nice big web-application based on the Risk board game, but with various enhancements as were needed. I'd make a LOT of territories, and give a few to each student. I'd then give them non-destructive, but competing, goals like "secure territory X", wherein anyone with that goal would get 1 point towards their final score if they held that territory for a day.

I hadn't even heard of the Stanford Prison Experiment by that stage.

It got worse: my idea encompassed giving a survey at the start, to work out the various social networks and subnetworks in the class, and then basing the goals on that. In my thought experiment I reckoned it'd be fun to have friends vie for similar territories to see how they'd resolve the issues. I tried to predict the fun of a role-reversal as the unpopular kid found themselves in a position of power holding a resource that others would have to negotiate for in order to get their points. My mind positively spun with the idea of giving some people "reporter" roles, where they required the co-operation of a host army in order to operate, but earned their points based on the subscriptions of the other classmates.

Somehow, optimism prevented me from seeing this turn a little in the way of Lord of the Flies. I thought that it'd be an entertaining way to teach kids about the disconnect between what's seen on the map and what they are trying to achieve, and how a tiny bit of back-room chat could make or break a situation.

As much as I've grown as a person, and realise it's a fundamentally bad idea, I'm still ever-so-slightly in love with the idea. But a recent game of risk (the game that started this chain of thought) reminded me why this is a fundamentally Bad Idea (tm): back-stabbing is part of the game. You form tenuous alliances waiting for the point where they fall apart, knowing it will end in tears, and you still cry when they do (sometimes cries/tears/howls of laughter).

While this is a valuable lesson for everyone to learn, the above method is not the way to teach it. And this is why I should never be a teacher.

(P.s. I don't think anyone actually reads this, but if you do, I'd love to hear of any Horrifically Bad Ideas you've had)

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tara_hanoi

September 2015

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