Games in the Classroom

If you’re a board game fan, even a casual one, you don’t need to be told that every game we play teaches us something. On the most basic level, games will teach us social skills like being a good winner or loser, how to wait until your turn, or how to work together to accomplish shared goals. If you delve a little deeper, certain games can help develop cognition skills, the ability to plan ahead, and how to work within a set of base rules. Any game should be able to help us grow in a variety of ways, especially when they’re introduced at a young age.

However, when we start to talk about ‘Educational’ games, all of a sudden people’s eyes glaze over and they tune out. For years, games that have been specifically used as educational tools have been designed to hit students over the head with the pertinent information, but without any real focus on the design itself. At the end of the day it results in another standard lesson that fails to grab the imagination of the student. All that has started to change and as the overall quality of design continues to develop, so too does the quality of educational games. Modern board game designers are taking into account math, sciences, history, art, and geography in a way they never have in the past. The results are games that would benefit any classroom’s curriculum, without losing a sense of fun for the players.

Matthew Higgins has been teaching subjects like Anthropology and Military History for over 25 years. Reaching his students, ranging from Grade 9-12, is not always an easy task. Higgins and teachers like him have a lot more competition these days for a students’ attention. He has begun to experiment with the cooperative World War 1 game The Grizzled in some of his Military History classes, and the results are very encouraging.

“Board games give the students the ability to synthesize information they have learned through experimenting with various styles of play,” said Higgins. “Also there is nothing better as a teacher than over-hearing a student use 100% historically accurate smack talk within the playing of the selected game.”

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