Summit County students to participate in World Peace Game | SummitDaily.com

Summit County students to participate in World Peace Game

Alli Langley
alangley@summitdaily.com

Today's children will be facing and solving the most important global problems of tomorrow, so why not give the kids a crack at them now?

Two small mountain private schools, Bristlecone Montessori School in Alma and The Peak School in Frisco, teamed up to host a complex, multi-day, political-simulation game for fourth- through eighth-grade students.

In her 18 years of teaching, "this game is one of the most powerful things I've seen," said Wendy Kerner, Bristlecone Montessori's elementary teacher.

Students participating in the World Peace Game will belong to a handful of fictional rich and poor countries and asked to achieve international prosperity with the least amount of military intervention while solving real-life economic, social, financial and environmental problems including water rights disputes, famines, war, endangered species and climate change.

The game involves a United Nations, World Bank, stock market, arms dealers and one student secretly adding chaos in a saboteur role. A handful of kids are named prime ministers, who then choose their cabinets.

To win, students must solve all 50 crises they are given, and each country must end the game with increased assets.

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Kerner said she loves that it promotes creative thinking, problem solving, effective communication, collaboration and peace keeping.

She attended a 40-hour course with the game's creator, John Hunter, in 2013 and learned how to facilitate the game, which she will lead at The Peak School Aug. 3 through Aug. 7.

In the meantime, she encouraged interested parents, students, teachers and school leaders to attend a free screening of the hourlong 2010 documentary called "World Peace and other 4th-Grade Achievements" about Hunter and an eight-week session of the game.

The film will be shown Wednesday, June 24, at the County Commons building in Frisco at 5 p.m.

An African-American educated in the segregated schools of rural Virginia, where his mother was his fourth-grade teacher, Hunter was chosen by his community to be one of seven students to integrate an all-white middle school.

The Virginia Commonwealth University graduate traveled extensively to China, Japan and India in his university years in the 1970s and, intrigued by the Ghandian principles of nonviolence, began exploring how he could contribute to world peace as a teacher. He designed the World Peace Game and has been leading game sessions since 1978.

"He is the most incredibly intelligent, creative person, but he's also this really humble, loving, just amazing man," Kerner said.

When she attended the game's master class for teachers two summers ago in Denver, her boss, Bristlecone Montessori School director Ruthann Sherrier, sent her son to participate in the game the teachers observed.

Sherrier said her son still talks about the game, can't wait to play it again and has created new crises to add, and she is sure the game will profoundly impact local students.

"I hope those children come away with a deeper understanding of the world beyond themselves but also within themselves," she said. "These problem-solving skills they're doing at this level are problem-solving skills they can use in their everyday lives."

While failing to solve crises and losing the game is an option, students have always figured it out, she said. "The only group that has never figured it out is the adults."

Parents are welcome to observe their children playing the game, which she said could lead to seeing their kids in a new light.

"Maybe I need to stop and listen to my child a little bit more. Their thoughts and opinions are very valid," Sherrier said parents might think.

She is positive families will want their children to participate in the game year after year, she said, and that local principals will want to bring the game to their schools.

She encouraged anyone interested to search online and watch John Hunter's 2011 TED talk called "Teaching with the World Peace Games" as well as the nine-minute trailer of the documentary, which was shown on PBS starting in 2012.

For more information or for participation and scholarship applications, visit http://www.bristleconemontessori.org/the-world-peace-game.html or call Wendy Kerner at (719) 839-0657.