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Camille Napier bernstein
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Peter, Thanks, again, for the information and instructions. I had a fascinating experience with my students (two different classes of 11th graders, Honors English class). We'd read essays surrounding the question, "Are We Responsible for Others?" over the last month and then listened to the WNYC RadioLab program on altruism before playing your game. The original directions didn't include a goal, which threw me until I decided to let it play out. Lack of a stated goal became an interesting wrinkle. When students asked me the goal (which was never at the beginning of the game), I shrugged, and said, "Sounds like you are making the goal yourself." Some groups decided the goal was to get the most points; another group decided to be ethical and cooperative and to show integrity (not choosing red after agreeing on blue in negotiations). After three rounds in one class -- tied scores -- we ended the period, so when we resumed the next morning, I added a wrinkle: anyone who talked the day before could not (for two rounds). The conversations, with the vociferous voices silenced, became much more thoughtful, less cutthroat. (Made me think about politicians -- talkers -- and their effect on society -- as well as about the silent citizens and their responsibility to step up.) A couple rounds later I upped the stakes: the win/loss was tied to a GRADE. If a team won, they got a 100% and the other got a 0%; if they tied, each got 50% -- kind of like the jail sentence. The conversations were even more thoughtful because the consequences were more real for the other team. (Note: I didn't tell them how many POINTS the grade was; nor did they ask. It was real enough for them to take it more seriously.) An especially bright and wise student suggested in negotiations that the teams agree to choose BLUE to maintain the tie until the last round, when they would renegotiate (he knew the other team would pull a red at the last second). Then he had a terrific solution: for Round 10 each team would agree to pick RED, thereby each losing 3 points but STILL maintaining the tie. If one team was dishonest (not choosing red), the dishonesty would NOT HELP the team, as it would if they both agreed to choose blue. I cannot wait for the all-class discussion on the outcome. Students' rationalizations were interesting: when the cutthroat team saw that the other team decided the goal was integrity, they claimed that "they are just picking blue to make us feel bad and look like jerks." I replied, "Ah...so THEY are at fault for your decisions?" Thanks again for this activity! Camille
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Apr 27, 2011