The World of 100: A Social Studies / English project

I love being able to participate in some of the amazing projects happening in Regina Public Schools.  A few weeks ago, I was invited to participate in a simulation activity organized by Sheldon Williams teachers.

The grade 10 students took part in a half day simulation activity that allowed them to focus and better understand key concepts as they relate to Social Studies 10 and English Language Arts 10.

Approximately one hundred students from 4 classes in these core areas were invited to join in a global simulation activity. The intent of this simulation was to develop an understanding of global control over resource distribution as well as the inherent inequalities that exist, as well as to increase understanding of the relationships with developing countries and to examine the complex global issues of wealth, health, resources, education and pollution.

As students entered the gym, they were provided with a birth certificate indicating their nationality for the simulation and allocated them to a specific.  Once they entered into the gym, they were required to sit with this group.  The “games master” followed the scripted activity, speaking to the intent of the activity and acting as master of ceremonies.  The students in specific groups represented countries with particular levels of wealth.  Initially, students were shown how wealth is distributed in this “world of 100” by allocating chairs as a symbol of wealth – wealthy countries received many extra chairs, whereas the poorest countries had very few or no chairs at all.  The activity shared important statistics and information about the inequalities in the different parts of the world and this was represented by uneven distribution of symbols of wealth, food, and clean water.  The activity also highlighted gender inequality (the males had were prioritized for both access to money and water), infant mortality rates (some students “died” and had to lie down for the rest of the game), military expenditures, literacy rates, and the impact of industrialized countries on climate change. Each teacher took a different role: a general, an oil executive, a grain trader, and a minister of water resources.  Each teacher was able to highlight the inequity among the countries by symbolically representing these elements throughout the simulation.

Once the simulation was completed, students went through a debriefing to talk about the emotional nature of the activity.  Some found that they felt guilty to be a country with significant wealth; some found it frustrating to be among the poorest countries and to have the fewest opportunities.  The afternoon finished with a breakdown of statistics from If the World Were a Village of 100 People.  The role-playing nature of this activity allowed students to better understand the difficult dynamics of globalization.  Overall, it was a great way to have students reflect on what it means to be a citizen of the world and to highlight the ongoing disparities that occur.

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