A veteran educator’s uplifting account of how he introduced schoolchildren to global problems through a visionary game that charged them with saving the world.
In 1978, Hunter decided that he wanted to teach his inner-city students about global issues in such a way that “they could experience the feeling of learning through their bodies.” So he developed the “World Peace Game” and used a three-dimensional structure to represent the entire planet “in four layers: undersea, ground and sea, airspace, and outer space.” Hunter plunged children into a complex matrix of problems and forced them to face such crises as nuclear proliferation; ethnic, religious and political tensions; and climate change and environmental disasters. His goals were twofold: He wanted to get his students to learn how to think in meaningful ways about difficult issues, and he hoped they could overcome petty hostilities and ego and organize themselves into a larger collective. Every class discovered a unique way to save the world, and no game ever ended without at least a few students walking away more aware of their own hidden strengths and weaknesses. Hunter also examines what the World Peace Game taught him. Creative entities, such as the collectives his students forged, moved through identifiable stages, some of which he admits have caused him profound anxiety. But as a teacher, he learned that his duty was to work in harmony with the group rather than seek to control either the participants or their responses, knowing that, “like adults in the real world, they might fail.”