My Prius has not even left the driveway on this fall’s Journey of Learning, yet the lessons and links are already stacking up. After posting in the last week about a new, creative approach to systems thinking at Townview Magnet in Dallas, and some extraordinary institutional steps to promote innovation at a major east coast independent school, now comes Glyn Jenkins, on his way to creating a learning Hunger Game at Westside School in Seattle.
Glyn participated in the master class taught by World Peace Game founder John Hunter, and sponsored by The Martin Institute, a few weeks ago. One of the outcomes in this very active-learning setting was that each of the participants began to develop ideas for their own game-style learning unit, focused on the well-documented outcomes John has achieved with his 4th graders: empathy, understanding, collaborative problem solving, strategic thinking, and thoughtful reflection.
In a long Skype call with Glyn yesterday he described for me the outlines of the game he is developing for his 7th graders. It will be based on the wildly popular Hunger Games trilogy; so right at the start he has created a framework of potential engagement with his students. They will be challenged to create the prequel of the Hunger Games: what might have caused the break-up of America into post-Apocalyptic territories? Then, the students must understand and articulate the geography, demographics, economy, resources, and internal and inter-territorial social structures of each of the territories as they create a framework for (hopefully) a peaceful and mutually supportive future based on a set of conditions that they will create.
The opportunities to weave together content learning in science, math, and history with the skills of collaboration, creativity, systems thinking, and synthesis are extraordinary. I suggested that Glyn have the territorial leaders create a blog site to log everything from reflection journals to the creation of their legal documents…and there is the writing component.
I also suggested a critical outcome that teachers may overlook. Innovation requires some element of risk, the creation of pilots that investigate new territory of our own. These pilot programs need institutional support at all levels of the process or innovation will whither. Student blogging, including informal video of the class in action, is a great way to engage parents, trustees, administrators, and other teaching colleagues. If they can see and feel it, they are much more likely to support the pilot…and to try something of their own. This is how single innovators contribute to the critical growth in cultural DNA that, in the end, shifts us away from our industrial-age model to become self-evolving organizations.
If you are working on something along these lines, or want to, leave a comment here or get in touch with Glyn! He is on Twitter at @GlynNTonic, and has just launched his blog at http://www.glynfjenkins.blogspot.com.