Pupils solve the world's problems

JODY O'CALLAGHAN
Last updated 05:00 03/07/2014

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Beauty queens all over the world may be wishing for it, but a group of Christchurch pupils are actually making world peace happen.

Seven Oaks School, in Opawa, has hosted 25 Year 7 to 9 pupils from Medbury School, Tamariki School, and home-schooling to carry out the country's first World Peace Game.

World-renowned American teacher John Hunter came up with the game for his own pupils in 1978. He went on to speak at the 2011 TED conference and be named one of Time magazine's 12 Education Activists for 2012.

Now the game has come to Christchurch.

Students are split into groups of arms dealers, United Nations, world bankers and ministers from four different countries to solve 50 issues like ethnic cleansing, famine, and environmental, natural disasters and stock changes made at the hands of a weather goddess.

The game ends in peace, once each country's net worth increases and all disasters have been solved.

Seven Oaks' trust paid for its co-founder Janet Nicol to go to America to be trained by Hunter to run the games here.

Principal Owen Arnst said the game was "very much in tune with the philosophy of our style of learning" and he wanted to open the invitation to other schools.

"It's about helping children to engage with and come up with their own solutions to real-world issues.

"It's very empowering for them and it's very real for them."

Total game time adds up to 18 to 20 hours, run through two three-hour sessions a week.

"This is the first time the game's been played in New Zealand," Arnst said.

Nicol said it was "fascinating" to see the pupils learning the art of negotiation and taking responsibility for their decisions.

"They go from being very unsure of themselves to speaking more confidently. I see the kids animated and excited about their learning."

"Let's be honest, they are going to be inheriting the world's problems."

Hunter's TED speech explained what he tells his students: "I'm so sorry boys and girls, but the truth is we've left this world to you in such a sad and terrible shape, we hope you can fix it for us.

"If only they could pick up a critical thinking tool or creative thinking tool from this game, and leverage something good for the world, they may save us all. If only."

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- The Press

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