Though I really enjoy the simulation (and the students do as well) it wears on me something awful. Playing the role of "The Leader" is much more stressful that I always think it will be. I worry that someone will take it too seriously and get themselves into some sort of trouble (i.e. breaking into my classroom...okay, it was by accident and all they did was overturn the desks and post propaganda). I worry that someone will be psychologically damaged by something that I say during the simulation (i.e. Me: So you are a member of a revolutionary group? She: I didn't say that. Me: But you admitted knowledge. She: Yes, I know who is involved. Me: Yet you did not inform the State of this traitorous act? She: Well, I wasn't sure.... Me: So you're a traitor. She: No!). The conversations go on and on as the students trip over their own stories.This year's simulation went surprisingly well. We had some outstanding players and some very sneaky players as well. As the years go by the students get more and more creative. I think my favorite story this year is from the banner-hangers and the desk-turner. In the dark of night the banner-hangers returned to school, climbed on TOP of my portable and began hanging their 2'x20' banner. While working diligently, they noticed a car driving up. To their horror the car stopped by the classroom and someone got out. Banner-hangers quickly flattened themselves onto the roof so as not to be seen. Desk-turner approached the room and began posting anti-State propaganda when he discovered, much to his surprise that the window to the classroom had not be securely fastened. He opened the window, climbed through, and using only flashlights began overturning desks and posting additional propaganda. Soon after, he left, but returned shortly after to double-check that the door and windows were securely closed. By this time the banner-hangers were nearly finished. All left without seeing each other, but, unbeknownst to them a SPY was on the hillside above the school with a video camera watching the whole thing. I have the photos to prove it.The simulation is all in good fun, but I do check to make sure that the students understand what exactly they were doing. They did. S understood that his friends would "die" (lose their points) if he didn't give up the names of the traitors. Tough lesson, but he got it. B learned that in a coup it might be best to do nothing lest one come out on the losing side and end up losing his or her "life" (points). S, M, S,C, and others learned that the State can be capricious. Overall, I believe that my students do begin to get an understanding of life in a totalitarian state within the controlled environment of the classroom (sometimes, I'm not quite sure how controlled it really is).It seems that this year most students felt positive about the experience once it was over. This is a change from previous years. Some liked the discipline. Some liked the challenge. All seemed to like overthrowing "the Leader" and installing a free and democratic society.

2 comments:

Lorin said...

this simulation sounds amazing! I would love to use it for my U.S. History classes. If you have any sort of documents that you are willing to share i would love to correspond with you. You can email me here: mr.fremgen@gmail.com

Thanks so much!

Ethan Post said...

I know this was a while ago but I would love to see the lesson plan for this simulation or an explanation of how it all worked. I am currently a student teaching in a 9th Grade World History class

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