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Magazine Issue 91: BOARD GAMES & LEARNING
January 2018

This month: Thoughts about board games

Article: Everything is a Game
New Resources
Additional Resources

This Month's Article:

Everything is a Game

Everything is a Game An Article about board games and skills-based learning.

This is a Free Sample Resource

Categories: Article, Teaching & Learning, Other Subject, Educators

Tags: Games Glass Bead Game Skills Problem Solving Collaboration
Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence wins championships.  Michael Jordan

The Only Option is...

You've probably heard this one before: two criminals, arrested on suspicion of a serious offence, are interviewed separately by the police. Each can either betray their partner and lie about their own involvement in the crime, or stay loyal by remaining silent. Rules that decide what happens next are:

  1. If they betray each other, they both serve 2 years in prison.
  2. If one betrays the other, who remains silent, the first will go free and the other serve 3 years.
  3. If they both stay silent, both serve 1 year in prison.

The question is, what should each criminal do? They can't discuss a strategy. Their choices are totally independent of each other. Game theory proves that the best choice is betrayal because it produces the 'least worst' combination of possible outcomes from each person's point of view.

What if?

But what if they could speak to each other, trusted each other, and made a joint decision? Clearly option 3 is now the only option; the price they pay for getting caught.

This thought experiment is the Prisoners' Dilemma which was framed in 1950 by Merrill Flood and Melvin Dresher. And it illustrates a key difference between two kinds of board game and two kinds of person.

Monopoly and Mysterium

Two more diverse games you could not find. Monopoly: the rule-based, dice-driven, grindingly-slow-death-defeat tribute to property ownership; and Mysterium, a cooperative murder-mystery where players are pitted together against the game itself and succeed through effective communication and creative visual thinking.

Monopoly is a zero-sum game: one person's gain is another's loss. They balance out. Someone wins. Everyone else loses. Mysterium is different; it's a positive-sum game. One person's discovery is a discovery for the whole team as they construct the narrative and deduce who the murderer is.

And isn't this the way with systems and people? And life in general. Some see it as zero-sum, others as positive-sum.

Why Board Games?

Creative thinking, collaboration, negotiation, communication, laughter, cooperation, deferred gratification, resilience, determination, analysis, relationship building, cognitive flexibility, happiness, modelling real life, patience and imagination. For starters. In fact, sociologist Michel Crozier in his seminal book, Actors and Systems (1977), models all organisations as games that the people in them are playing. And psychiatrist Eric Berne in Games People Play (1954) describes human interaction and relationships as just a series of different strategy games that we don't generally realise we're playing.

Trexit & Learning

They say that President Trump's approach to leadership is zero-sum. For him to win, someone else must loose. The news today, as I'm writing this, notes that he's is about to recognise Jerusalem as Israel's capital. And Brexit. It's December '17 and the UK is bringing to bear all the negotiation capacity it has on to the issues of EU trade and Irish boarders.

I really hope that it is January 2018 and you are reading this.

What to learn from games in a world like this? The easy option is to recommend every school has a games club that helps pupils to develop 21st Century skills. That's a valuable but minimal response. How about something radical? How about this:

That school curricula should be formally based around the following skills and that these skills must to be taught, progressed and assessed from ages 4-18. These are not optional add-ons. They are as core as Literacy and Numeracy.

  • Negotiation
  • Collaboration
  • Win-Win Thinking
  • Strategic Thinking
  • Creative Thinking
  • Critical Thinking
  • Analytic Thinking

And every pupil plays board games every school week and, with their teacher's help, maps what they learn on to real life contexts.

I've yet to find an evidenced, compelling argument to NOT do this. Though I'd love to hear your thoughts. And all about your favourite board games.

And if you are intrigued by Mysterium, then visit Amazon or BoardGameGeek and read the reviews for more information.

New Resources:

Q-Board Thinking

Q-Board Thinking A Thinking Skills Tool for generating high quality study questions about curriculum content.

Categories: Thinking Tool, Enquiry Thinking, Thinking Skills, Any Subject, All Ages

Tags: Enquiry Questioning Collaboration
Free Standard Member Resource: Login or Join for Free to access this resource and others.

Q-Board PowerPoint

Q-Board PowerPoint A Thinking Tool Template in PowerPoint for Q-Board Thinking - quickly edit for your own lesson focus.

Categories: Thinking Tool, Enquiry Thinking, Thinking Skills, Any Subject, All Ages

Tags: Enquiry Questioning Collaboration
Teacher Premium Resource: Login or Upgrade to Teacher Premium to access this resource.

Mistakes Think Sheet

Mistakes Think Sheet A Think Sheet to help break the taboo around mistakes.

Categories: Think Sheet, Creative Thinking, Skills-Based Learning, Any Subject, Junior

Tags: Mistake Positive Error Culture Error Challenge
Teacher Premium Resource: Login or Upgrade to Teacher Premium to access this resource.

Additional Resources:

Thinking Classroom Archive:

3DQ Thinking

3DQ Thinking A Thinking Skills Tool for enriching your questioning - ideas to lead/push pupils' thinking deeper and wider.

Categories: Questioning, Thinking Tool, Any Subject, Thinking Skills, All Ages

Tags: Questioning
Teacher Premium Resource: Login or Upgrade to Teacher Premium to access this resource.

Error Thinking

Error Thinking A Thinking Skills Tool for removing the taboo around error, mistake, setback. Exploit inevitable errors to accelerate and deepen understanding.

Categories: Thinking Tool, Critical Thinking, Thinking Skills, Any Subject, All Ages

Tags: Error Positive Error Culture Grit Growth Mindset
Teacher Premium Resource: Login or Upgrade to Teacher Premium to access this resource.

Glass Bead Thinking

Glass Bead Thinking A Thinking Skills Tool inspired by the novel the Glass Bead Game. Requires high level group work and high order thinking. Apart from that, pretty straightforward.

Categories: Thinking Tool, Creative Thinking, Thinking Skills, Creativity, Any Subject, Secondary, Tertiary

Tags: Glass Bead Game High Order Thinking
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Mindset: How You Can Fulfil Your Potential
by Carol Dweck

Mindset: How You Can Fulfil Your Potential<br>by Carol Dweck A contemporary classic? Find out about growth and fixed mindsets; entitist and incrementalist thinking. A growth mindset is foundational for increased success.

Available from Amazon

Opens in a New Window
Categories: Suggested Books, Research

Tags: Success Hard Work Character Growth Mindset


TED Talk: Angela Lee Duckworth: The key to success? Grit

TED Talk: Angela Lee Duckworth: The key to success? Grit Angela Lee Duckworth presents us with 'grit': the characteristics that predict success more accurately than intelligence. With focus, determination and resilience, gritty learners can outperform their smarter, less gritty peers.

Opens in a New Window
Categories: Websites, Teaching & Learning

Tags: Grit

Next month we think about...the value of inspection.