Posted by: jwhiff | December 9, 2016

Inuit Class Game Part 3

I attempted to bring some critical thinking into the last part of the game.  I wanted the kids to understand that:

  1. Elements of culture are often present for a good reason (in other words, often adaptive).
  2. The Inuit faced rapid changes to their culture in the twentieth century.
  3. All of these changes came with both costs and benefits.

I was relatively successful in achieving these goals.  I tried to be really thoughtful in the creation of game tasks.  I wanted them to be challenging and urgent.

Probably the most interesting idea I came up with was a metaphor for problems facing humanity that I called monsters.  I wanted the kids to feel that all humans throughout time have worked to escape these monsters.  The Inuit, like all people to a varying extent, faced the ancient monsters of exposure, starvation, animal attack, accidents, and to a lesser extent, war.  They faced these monsters and were regularly successful at defeating them through their cultural practices, although these monsters stalked them constantly.  They could never be off their guard.

Skip to modern times.  There are many modern cultural practices that help to protect from those ancient monsters.  Exposure, starvation and animal attacks are now lesser monsters.  However, other monsters have now grown in strength.  They may have always been present in the world, but had less power in Inuit society.  These monsters are the dominant monsters of modern society–crime, addiction, self destruction, and environmental destruction. You can make arguments for other monsters, but I put some thought into these and decided to give them a go.

The point of the last part of the game is to avoid the ancient monsters while keeping the modern monsters at bay.

How were they able to do this?   They were first given a set of Inuit cultural practices.  They needed to decide which ancient cultural practices they were going to set aside in favour of modern practices.  Not an easy thing to do.  They knew that ancient practices were part of their culture for a reason.  Question is, which ones might help them against modern monsters?  Which ones, now that they have the protection of modern society, might they want to set aside?  If they choose to keep an ancient practice, they may have to face ancient monsters.  If they choose to set aside this ancient practice, this may attract modern monsters.  All decisions come with costs and benefits.

In the end, there was a ton of interesting discussion and debate.  The game was a bit complicated (as the kids had to colour code all of the cultural elements so they would know which ones they could use to protect themselves if they drew a particular monster card), but fun.

I realize now that I need to think of a way for each cultural element to have a game cost.  The way I played it, once the tough decisions were made, each cultural element was simply protective when they drew a monster card.

I’ll keep tinkering with this one until I have it right.  All in all, it was a good and thoughtful game.




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