Official Blog of the Education Exchange Corps

Sunday, June 7, 2015

If Kids Rule the World, That Doesn't Mean They're Driving, Right? (Or How We Made Our Leadership Game) Part II

So far, we've talked about how to build the physical parts of the game. Now: How the game works.

On the first day, our young leaders will assemble in the cafeteria. Sitting on a table in the middle of the vast room will be the game board, covered by a sheet.

Why covered? Because humans of all ages are intrigued by mystery and surprise.

First, we introduce the adults to the young leaders. Then, we reveal the board.

Artist's rendering of excited children looking at the board.
Thanks Anat!
Behold the game board!
(Like Babe Ruth calling his shot, I'm calling these reactions: "Whoa!" "I have one of these at home!" "That's not Earth...." "Yes it is!")

Everybody can touch the board now, but this will be the last time anyone and everyone can touch it.

Why touch it at all? Kids like touching things. Nothing we can do to help that.

Then, to foreshadow what will happen with this board, we drop a magnetic piece onto it and, by the power of physics, it stands straight up.

"WOW!" "COOL!" "Can I try!?" "Give me that!"

We'll do our best to stop everyone in between the latter two exclamations. Only moments ago, we announced the no-touching rule, but it takes many repetitions to teach a new habit. Now is the time to harness the excitement of something new. Leeway is granted.

We point out the four landmasses that are home to the world's major powers. And then it's time to divide.

Our leaders will be divided into four groups. These groups will be based on age. So we will have a country of 5-6-year-olds, 7-8-year-olds, 9-11-year-olds, and 12-17-year-olds. They will meet each other, meet their advisers (our fantastic volunteer instructors!), and immediately set about creating their world.

This first day is essential; first impressions are big. If you falter early on, you lose the crowd, and it's hard to get the audience back on your side. Kids feed off energy. This first moment must be full of excitement and adventure, and the leaders must start to get acquainted with the prospect that decisions in this world - their world - will be made by them.

So we'll start them off on this path of independence. We'll have a discussion about how to interact with each other. The words "respect" and "fair" will come up a lot.
(Side note: We might write more about this topic later, but, although we all understand the importance of respect, this was personally the most troubling part of the game for me. We spent so much time designing a simulation for kids to find their own way, to learn the most effective way to act and behave based on their interactions with others. Demanding that our participants treat each other respectfully takes some of the freedom out of the simulation.
But, we need to balance total freedom with the instructional purpose. We think that balance can be achieved through a conversation with students because they'll still be generating the ideas and underlying moral framework. In the end, many of the hardest decisions we made involved a balance between freedom and instruction.)

During our first run, the four countries were Samistonia,
Yadistan, Greybourg, and Hyrule.
Each country will then receive randomly-assigned attributes. The first attribute will be geographic placement. Although the map is set, which landmass a particular group of leaders will reside on is not.

The second attribute will be population. The smallest country will have 20 million residents. The largest will have 800 million.

The third attribute will be GDP. GDP will range from $20 billion to $400 billion. We're using a common currency because OH MY GOODNESS THIS IS CRAZY ENOUGH!
The governments will initially start out with a tax rate of 50% of overall GDP. So, effectively, countries will be able to spend $10 billion to $200 billion depending on their assigned GDP. Governments can change their tax rates, but such decisions will come with consequences (more on that later).

Finally, each country will receive randomly assigned resources. These resources are used during the course of the game and can be traded between countries.

The leaders will then work within their countries to come up with country names, national stories, and a unifying culture. They'll introduce their countries to the world. They'll have a chance to meet other leaders from other countries at a series of international meetings hosted by our international organizations.

Here's another wrinkle: The international organizations will be run by some of our high school students. More on that later too!

At the end of this period of harmony and collaboration, we will introduce the world to its first global challenge, and the leaders will have only 70 minutes to come up with a plan.

Tune in to Part III where we reveal the global challenges, domestic demands, and our daily schedule!

Elad Gross
President and CEO
Education Exchange Corps

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