Monday, May 1, 2017

War's Gift To Kids- Learning How To Apply Strategy Through Games

Our 8 year old playing a phenominal cooperative
family game called Forbidden Island where choices
are openly discussed and applied, fitting into
an overall shared strategy.
All parents, homeschooling or otherwise, expect their children to make good choices, but I've never met another parent that teaches the mechanics of how to do this.  Primarily they expect their kids to kind of figure it out through trial and error.  I've over heard some parents say things like "Think about the consequences" but that's the extent of their advice.  There is a whole academic discipline devoted to making good choices and it is called "Strategy."

Many people simply brush off studying Strategy as a war thing.  While it does have its roots in the unknown and chaotic environment of warfare, over the years its application to all areas of life have been studied and applied to great effect, be it business, or home buying, or simply picking out where to hold a party (we did this as part of a course at Stanford on Strategy).  Unknowns and chaos are a part of life and having the ability to formalize decisions in such spaces is a very powerful tool.  Even when to be spontaneous can be analyzed as part of a strategic decision.

Learning about, and applying, Strategic Thought in life is an important part of our Homeschool education.  Strategic Thought enables our girls to make better choices in uncertain and unknown environments, which covers a large swath of actual life .... and an even larger amount if you push yourself into unknown areas. We feel so strongly about this that we've not only formally codified it into our homeschool charter (VI. Strategy of Exerevno Academy.2, VII.Tactics of Exerevno Academy.4, and VIII.Operations of Exerevno Academy.3), but we actively pursue it as a field of study on its own.  We leverage board-games as a laboratory for this topic, and life's choices for the actual application.

The kinds of Board-Games we incorporate in our homeschool life for strategy lessons are turn based, where the pace of the game is regulated by our choice speed.  Our board games are chosen such that neither physical agility nor physical prowess grants an advantage.  What matters is the ability to make good choices.  No, these aren't all war games.  In fact, as I look at our game collection, of the 30 some games in it, only two are explicitly/overtly about war (Stratego and Risk) and two are implicit (Go and Chess).

Some games we play are cooperative, while others are adversarial.  Some are team based, and some are each man for themselves.  Some are perfect information games, while others are not.  Some are 1 player, some 2, some 4, some 6 and up.  The games have various age recommendations, from 5 and up to 13 and up (although we consciously ignore the suggested age range). Some take 5 minutes (Uno, for example), some have taken 5 hours (we once played Carcassonne Big Box and it took 5 hours for a single game), and some take days (Monopoly seems to have this happen more than most games). Some have elements of chance and some require diplomacy, but all require strategy.

These kinds of games also provide for another important part of our homeschool approach, the acquisition of the skill of active feedback (again, see our charter).  You can see and measure how outcomes are unfolding, and because we use turns as a speed regulation mechanism, each person can operate their feedback loops comfortably and adjust if need be.

If you're homeschooling, you probably include games to some degree but do you activity choose, study, and play games that develop specific deep skill sets you want your kids to have in life?  We do, and our girls LOVE them.  We will be sharing examples throughout the life of this blog, and they will be labeled with Games.

Do you have a great strategy board game recommendation? If so, please do share.

No comments:

Post a Comment