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History Comes Alive at Simpson

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Published on Apr 26, 2012

What if you did more than study history?

What if you could live it?

That may sound far-fetched -- as far as we know, time travel has yet to be invented -- but the history department at Simpson College has discovered a creative way to bridge the gap.

It's game playing with a purpose. A historic moment is chosen -- say, the Mexican Revolution, or the 1968 Democratic National Convention -- and students are given roles to play and objectives to reach.

They then embark on learning the old-fashioned way, by reading about their character and the event. But during the 4 to 5 days the game is played, they become their character, giving speeches, having those speeches challenged, trying to win.

"You get a feeling for how your character was feeling at the time," one student says. "The whole thing comes to life.

The result, says History Professor Nick Proctor, is that students become so engaged with the characters and the material, they learn more effective. "There's an emotional connection to past events," he says.

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