Fourth and Fifth Graders Work for World Peace

Fourth and fifth graders engaged in a simulated game of war, conflict, and crisis with the World Peace Games this week. In just five days they hope to achieve something that even the most powerful on Earth have yet to accomplish – world peace.

When the game began on Monday, students were faced with a four-level plexiglass game board representing underground, land and sea, air, and outer space. Divided into fictitious nations, every student was given a role, some of which include a Prime Minister, a Cabinet Member, an Arms Dealer, a Secretary General of the United Nations, a Saboteur, and a Weather God and Goddess (who also control the stock market). Every student’s role is equally important.

The nations are also unique with one being very wealthy, one oil-rich, one poor, and one philosophically mandated to protect the earth. To achieve world peace, students must negotiate and resolve their way through many crises (including climate change, chemical warfare, refugees, religious conflict, and tsunamis) and achieve global prosperity.

At the beginning, the game is deliberately created to be overwhelming and chaotic in order to encourage complex problem solving in collaborative yet competitive scenarios.

“Before starting the game, we held a meeting to explain the process to parents,” said Mrs. Gallagher. “We knew this was going to be a challenge for the students, both intellectually and emotionally, and we wanted parents to know how to best support their child.”

The overarching goal of the game is to bring out the best in every child through role playing in a fictional, yet realistic world on the brink of economic, social, and environmental crisis. Conflict and chaos will hopefully become collaborative complex problem solving. As the game progresses, students will have conversations and conflicts and will need to come up with their own resolutions. This process helps them to think globally, about what others may need, and truly learn how to negotiate.

The game also involves extensive reading comprehension and math. Auditors from the World Bank are on hand to keep budgets in check. Structure is also important. There are specific protocols during game play for interacting with each other such as everyone being referred to as Mr. or Ms. in their various roles. 

Will the fourth and fifth graders achieve world peace this week? We can’t wait to find out!

About the Game

For over 30 years John Hunter, an educator and creator of the World Peace Game, has been teaching fourth graders and their teachers how to play a complex, immersive, interactive, collaborative, and geopolitical game. The overarching goal is to bring out the best in every child through role playing in a fictional yet realistic world on the brink of economic, social, and environmental crisis. Hunter designed the game “to equip students with the skills they need in order to face the problems and uncertainties of the real world.”