Thursday, March 17, 2011

What Do Students Learn by Playing Global Challenge?

The whole concept of Global Challenge allows for the participants to recognize their strengths and, just as importantly, to search out the strengths of others. What students ultimately find out is that there is no way to win alone. One cannot be successful without respect and tolerance for team members. 

One of the most important features of Global Challenge is that different styles of learning are actually rewarded. It is highly recommended that as students make alliances and put together their teams, they take into consideration different areas of expertise, picking the financial genius, the diplomat, the strategist and so on. In this way, all the students can more fully discover and develop their particular strengths. 

Students soar through the textbook, Internet and maps in search of questions that are broken down into seven categories. After all, how much learning takes place when one answers Houghton Mifflin's version of an important question at the end of each chapter? But have students write their own questions, which they answer for points, money and political influence and one has just guaranteed intrinsic motivation. Handing in homework on time guarantees the student and his team 20,000 dollars. No dirty looks from the teacher when a student fails to turn in homework… just less money to enter into the checkbook and not so friendly looks from teammates. 

This is how things operate in a free market place. And for those that get behind, do we consider social welfare, or is it survival of the fittest? This makes for interesting class discussions, or interesting unit on economics or human nature. Don't think that the teacher never gets involved. Quite the opposite -- the teacher will have to think constantly to keep up with the changes rapidly taking place in this free thinking market place of ideas… a video on philosophy here, a lecture on economics there, conflict resolution… all self perpetuating, idea driven, emotions, psychology all the human factors that make this a true microcosm or small universe. 

In the end, the students have had a chance to synthesize a wide variety of information in the context of a unified curriculum. English, math, social studies and science are meshed with finance, communication and organization to provide the students with cohesive real world skills that will serve them well as they move on to college and/or the work place. There will be aggressors and peaceniks, and those who walk the middle attempting to stay out of the fray, but no one is uninvolved or escapes decision making or contribution to the whole in some way. This is a classroom experience, and all get to see for themselves the patterns of history. More importantly, the student discovers where he or she fits in the context of the world.

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