Wargaming in the classroom

by Mike Priest on February 19, 2009 · 0 comments

Over the years the miniature Civil War game which I have developed for my Civil War class has gotten, generally, the most apathetic student to participate and accidentally learn history at the same time. Over the last five years it has become more difficult to use in the classroom because I am no longer in my own room. since I do not teach a Maryland High School Assessment class, I, along with the U.S. Studies and World History teachers in our school have been required to “float” from room to room. Leaving a game set up in someone else’s room can be disasterous. I have had pieces stolen and in one case eaten by students. (I found the chewed remnants in his desk.) Nevertheless, when I have been able to use the game, it has served as an invaluable tool.

The students learn actual tactics the hard way – “on the job training” – which prompts them to ask me if what they want to do could actually have been executed. This gives me the opportunity to provide them with an historical example to justify their move. They learn about judging range, firing by battalions and by ranks. They employ skirmishers and learn about line of sight. The entire process gets them actively thinking about strategy and history.

As a follow-up thwey have to write afteraction reports based upon the formats used in the OR’s. The greatest part of gaming is that they ask questions of me, of their fellow students. They learn the importance of terrain and timing in determining the outcome of an action.

Everytime I go to a wargaming converntion, I show them the pictures of the game. It is a tremendous motivator.

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