I participated in the Erasmus Project, 2023, April 17-21, 2023. This is a European Union program based on exchange of students, instructors, and teaching/learning methods across schools and countries. [Erasmus home page, Wikipedia entry]
I was invited by Marco Mengoli to visit and teach at the Instituto di Itruzione Superiore “Roselli,” in Aprilia, a suburb of Rome. Several faculty at this school including Marco study and teach about game design, education via games, or some combination of these things. Their suggested topic was the Cold War + role-playing as a form of learning + my games Spione and Shahida.
Marco Mengoli: Ron Edwards is without doubt the most influential person in the world of role-playing games in the last thirty years. His work includes two wonderful books, Shahida and Spione, that combine historical depth (and fierce critique) with a role-playing game that can make you “live and feel” the historical settings of the espionage conflicts in Cold War Berlin and the vicissitudes of a family in Beirut during the Lebanese Civil War. At the high school where I am faculty, Carlo e Nello Rosselli in Aprilia (Latium – Italy), we’re using and experimenting with game based learning. Since I first met Ron in 2016 I thought it would be wonderful to invite him to present his works, and at last we could do so thanks to the ERASMUS project in 2023. It was great! It has been an exceptional workshop. It was the first time our students could meet an English-speaking teacher able to show them not only a straight vision of a period we unfortunately aren’t always able to teach with the depth it deserves, but who could also offer a game based learning version of It and a new methodology (even for us) that could really make our students the main characters of their own education.
Student groups’ commentary: The game could be used in the Law and Religion classes, and in the History ones for a couple of sessions. The game is useful to memory and to listening to other people but even to socializing and collaborating with the course. / It has been very informative and very important for our understanding of English, and we expanded our way of learning. / If we were teachers we would use this method for the last class of History because we think this method is much more interesting and engrossing than the normal lessons, and we are more willing to be interested. / We’d use this method in Maths and Informatic to help use logical skills, one week a month, for the third and fourth course. The rules should be the same we used during this week, like the cards, but we could even create some more rules. [These are a few of many similar comments from over 120 students]
Andrea Comincini, teacher of Literature and History: I was skeptical about indie role-playing games and how they might be used for teaching, then I met Ron Edwards and my views have completely changed. His method and his lessons were able to open my mind. I could see how effective it is for students and teachers. I would now recommend every school to adopt this approach for learning because it improves the quality of working together and opens everybody’s mind. I am grateful that my Institute, ISS Rosselli from Aprilia (Italy), invited him for conferencing, and I hope to meet him again.
Stefano Stradioli, teacher of Math: The week with Ron has been exciting for teachers and students. The kids have been thrown into an unusual activity, challenging even, with a lot of inputs and ideas. Most of them were not used to games, but they all manage to keep up, guided by Ron’s procedures and patience. They enjoy themselves, they learn a lot about a lot of things. Besides, thanks to the game, they could “live” as actors in the discussed content (Cold War, for us) for the first time. The experience was also important for us as teachers: we learned techniques and procedures, and we could exercise our critical thinking. Ron has been very helpful with us and generous. He granted a lot of time for ques