Just discovered this idea worth spreading from great friend and Ixtatan foundation director Beth Neville. Super Teacher John Hunter in Virginia has developed an application to the 'World Game' or World Peace Game that allows kids to take control of four completely distinct fictional nations as well as international institutions that broker deals between them. In true Montessori style, he turned the reins of his 4th grade classroom over to the kids and was rightfully blown away by the results. In the game, students must bring peace and welfare to the world by solving 50 interwoven, real and complex issues. Global warming, extreme poverty, child soldiers, disease outbreak, you name it, they're solving it. His TED talk is definitely worth a listen. You can tell by the passion in his voice that on top of being an innovator and entrepreneur John is a fantastic teacher.
Now the World Game idea itself was developed 50 years ago by Buckminster Fuller in 1961. He writes in the preamble to his Planning Document:
All those who have attained high scholarly capability assure us that real education is self-education. They also say that this self-disciplining is most often inspired by great teachers who make it seem apparent that it will be excitingly worthwhile to take the trouble to bring one self to apprehend and then comprehend variously pertinent data, phenomena and derived principles. The intimate manuscript records of many great self-educated individuals show that they discern intuitively when and what it is that they want to learn.
The truth is that 4th grade kids could probably solve a lot more problems than traditional schools usually give them credit for. We are definitely playing the World Peace game in our Upper Elementary classroom next year.
A movie has also been made about the John and the game.