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Keeping It Real: Teaching Middle East Conflicts with Simulations
Unformatted Document Text:  expand them. This sacrifices accuracy to achieve a more comprehensive view of the conflict and a modicum of simplicity at the same time. This is done to make the conflict manageable but still include the average people in a conflict. For one simulation, the Lebanese civil war, I set the time period as the middle of the war but still include a group that had basically disappeared. As conflicts progress, some players popular and important at an earlier stage do not survive, as is the case with the Lebanese National Movement. The group in this case represented a secular solution for the country and was a major player in the first few years of the war. Including it provides students a more complete picture of the conflict than would arise from only the groups present later in the war. The professor also needs to set the order of presentations. Breaking down the event into 7 groups [versus] 100 that are presented in the reading was very helpful. I have a better understanding of who wants what, even if some of the groups are composed of multiple militias.The order of participants was well set up, nice flow of entities so that you could modify your initial presentation to address preceding participants' points. Larger simulations utilizing some teams - 2 people representing a group - works well. Groups can be represented by one person or multiple people. While students in larger simulations (9 players) complained that there were too many people, the number added a degree of lively debate that smaller ones did not have. Indeed, the complaint reflected the fact that many voices were trying to be heard. Smaller simulations lacked that level of enthusiasm and "chomping at the bit" to state their side. Four players are too little; 7 appears about right. Teams of two works well for some of the more unpopular groups. The individuals are emboldened to state their positions when working in pairs, while alone they are much quieter. For undergraduates, teams may be useful for all players. The danger with teams is that one student can dominate. For grading, I take this into account and have additional barometers to judge the student, through the written papers (done individually while the 2 minute positions are joint) and the individual meetings. Some intervention from the facilitator can help the quieter students speak more. Conclusion Simulations need not be all-consuming or high tech teaching tools. If such work intensive simulations become the norm, few will be able to utilize this teaching tool. My model of role-plays demonstrates that the pedagogical benefits of active learning can be obtained through simple but controlled simulations entailing much less time on the professor's part. This version of role-play is low-tech, facilitating ease of implementation with little capital, preparation time, or coordination. The model can be expanded to incorporate technology, increased time and coordination if desired. I found that students enjoyed and learned from role-plays. Students stated that they appreciated different claims and causes for group positions, and the role-plays generated interest in knowing about new subjects they had not previously realized. Some found that opposing players did have common interests but the players themselves were unable to identify those commonalities. Cited ReferencesDiGiacomo, R. 1980. Short Role-playing Simulations for World History Classrooms, Handbook available from Eastern Kentucky University, Kentucky. 11

Authors: Baylouny, Anne.
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expand them. This sacrifices accuracy to achieve a more comprehensive view of the
conflict and a modicum of simplicity at the same time. This is done to make the conflict
manageable but still include the average people in a conflict. For one simulation, the
Lebanese civil war, I set the time period as the middle of the war but still include a group
that had basically disappeared. As conflicts progress, some players popular and important
at an earlier stage do not survive, as is the case with the Lebanese National Movement.
The group in this case represented a secular solution for the country and was a major
player in the first few years of the war. Including it provides students a more complete
picture of the conflict than would arise from only the groups present later in the war. The
professor also needs to set the order of presentations.
Breaking down the event into 7 groups [versus] 100 that are presented in the
reading was very helpful. I have a better understanding of who wants what, even
if some of the groups are composed of multiple militias.
The order of participants was well set up, nice flow of entities so that you could
modify your initial presentation to address preceding participants' points.
Larger simulations utilizing some teams - 2 people representing a group - works
well. Groups can be represented by one person or multiple people. While students in
larger simulations (9 players) complained that there were too many people, the number
added a degree of lively debate that smaller ones did not have. Indeed, the complaint
reflected the fact that many voices were trying to be heard. Smaller simulations lacked
that level of enthusiasm and "chomping at the bit" to state their side. Four players are too
little; 7 appears about right. Teams of two works well for some of the more unpopular
groups. The individuals are emboldened to state their positions when working in pairs,
while alone they are much quieter. For undergraduates, teams may be useful for all
players. The danger with teams is that one student can dominate. For grading, I take this
into account and have additional barometers to judge the student, through the written
papers (done individually while the 2 minute positions are joint) and the individual
meetings. Some intervention from the facilitator can help the quieter students speak more.
Conclusion
Simulations need not be all-consuming or high tech teaching tools. If such work
intensive simulations become the norm, few will be able to utilize this teaching tool. My
model of role-plays demonstrates that the pedagogical benefits of active learning can be
obtained through simple but controlled simulations entailing much less time on the
professor's part. This version of role-play is low-tech, facilitating ease of implementation
with little capital, preparation time, or coordination. The model can be expanded to
incorporate technology, increased time and coordination if desired. I found that students
enjoyed and learned from role-plays. Students stated that they appreciated different
claims and causes for group positions, and the role-plays generated interest in knowing
about new subjects they had not previously realized. Some found that opposing players
did have common interests but the players themselves were unable to identify those
commonalities.
Cited References
DiGiacomo, R. 1980. Short Role-playing Simulations for World History Classrooms,
Handbook available from Eastern Kentucky University, Kentucky.
11


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