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Roleplaying games in the classroom


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So for my last article review of the semester I decided to look into any papers supporting the use of roleplaying games in the classroom.  I was able to dig up three of them through googlescholar, and I was less than happy after reading them.  Unlike other articles I've read, they didn't seem overly compelling, and some provided information that may have hurt their case.

 

Long story short, I wrote a less than enthused review, and suggested teachers ditch rule heavy games like D&D, and instead focus on games that build vocabulary and writing skills.  I really wish there had been a stronger article out there.  I'd write one myself, but I only have experience as a gamer not a educator.

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I don't know about scholarly articles.  My playing experience indicates that making characters with some rules sets could improve basic math and algebra skills.  As a GM, I found that researching potential game settings taught me as much or more world history as my college humanities classes.

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My first experience with role playing games was back in 1978 (yes I'm that old) when my English teacher started an after-school D&D group. He did use it as a teaching tool to some degree and even though he was an English teacher, it was through his campaign that I first grasped percentages, improved my basic math skill/speed, etc. Plus, he graded us on our character background. Not officially, but it really made use put some thought into it.

 

I didn't stick with D&D however as when I decided I wanted to run my own campaign, I stopped by the hobby store and that 13 year old Star Wars fan saw Traveller. I grabbed up all the Little Black Books my allowance would allow for the next few months and ran a two year campaign.

 

But I cant help but to think back at my first experience with RPGs all those years ago and how things would be different if my best friend didn't convince me to sign up for the after school game.

 

Rod

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As an after school extra-curricular activity, this high school teacher is all thumbs up. Not only may such games teach some practical math skills in light of game mechanics but also interpersonal skills such as planning ahead, thinking a problem through, cooperation and positive social interaction.

 

As a tool in the classroom itself? I think, save in the most rare and abbreviated of circumstances, the price in time is just too high. A lack of interest on the part of the majority is another factor. That, and it would be a seriously hard-sell to administration.

 

I may use a short role-playing as a method to illustrate, say, the behavior a literary knight was expected to have toward a Lady of his class or how Beowulfian boasting may have sounded around Heorot's fire, but the only dice rolling I do in my classroom is to see which in-class essay test prompt my students have to address on their unit finals afterwards :-). 

 

Cheers,

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