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Keeping It Real: Teaching Middle East Conflicts with Simulations
Unformatted Document Text:  have found these are best kept short, 2-3 minutes each. The time limit on these must be strict, as they can drag on and bore the audience. Also, forcing the position to be clear in a few minutes promotes clarity and distills the main points. Rebuttals of the same length are then presented in the same order. Students can respond to the allegations against them presented by other players at this time. Following these ordered presentations, players are free to address each other at will, asking questions and presenting their sides. Half way through the (two-hour) class I stop and allow the audience - the rest of the class - to question the players. One year I asked students in the audience to come in with prepared questions, but I found these became irrelevant after the first half of the class. New questions arose and old questions were usually answered in the course of the class. Spontaneous questions were best. Students in the audience addressed players in their roles, and often participants had to extrapolate from what they knew to predict new positions or future actions. I only intervene to correct an egregiously incorrect position that would skew the entire simulation. After the simulation, the class discusses the topic and I answer questions and fill in gaps. I have students fill out an evaluation with open-ended questions after the simulation (included in the appendix). The purpose of this evaluation was for students to think about the simulation and for me to gauge the points of interest and what needs clarification in the follow-up class. I asked the students about the best, worst, and most striking part of the simulation. I also asked what else they wanted to learn about this subject. Additionally, I asked students if they felt there was a winner in the moral sense of having the best case. This question produced interesting results. The last question asked participants to rate their performance. Due to the wording and open-ended nature of the questions, students responded by discussing their ideas of the conflict itself, the topic, and new questions they wanted to explore. In the best, worst, and most striking questions students commented on their learning experience. Student Opinions: The Environment and Effort in the Simulation As others have found, students enjoyed the simulations, were enthusiastic about them, and referred to the knowledge learned from these classes in future classes (DiGiacomo 2000: 3). They found the simulations an effective learning shortcut to much reading and study, and put a good deal of effort into the simulations. Students stated that they learned a lot through this teaching method. They particularly liked the interaction among players and felt it was most helpful in learning the conflicts. I'm impressed I learned as much as I did--[the conflict was] very confusing with so many groups/positions.Two hours without a break (not a complaint) and I think we could have continued for two more hours. I learned more in 3 minutes about [the group] than by all the reading. I thought this method … was a valuable way to get a grasp of the basic issue of this conflict.This was a really efficient way to learn a great deal about the Arab-Israeli Peace process, past and present. [What I liked best was] essentially having the positions presented in a clear concise manner without having to put the effort into researching in depth the material. 4

Authors: Baylouny, Anne.
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have found these are best kept short, 2-3 minutes each. The time limit on these must be
strict, as they can drag on and bore the audience. Also, forcing the position to be clear in
a few minutes promotes clarity and distills the main points. Rebuttals of the same length
are then presented in the same order. Students can respond to the allegations against them
presented by other players at this time.
Following these ordered presentations, players are free to address each other at
will, asking questions and presenting their sides. Half way through the (two-hour) class I
stop and allow the audience - the rest of the class - to question the players. One year I
asked students in the audience to come in with prepared questions, but I found these
became irrelevant after the first half of the class. New questions arose and old questions
were usually answered in the course of the class. Spontaneous questions were best.
Students in the audience addressed players in their roles, and often participants had to
extrapolate from what they knew to predict new positions or future actions. I only
intervene to correct an egregiously incorrect position that would skew the entire
simulation. After the simulation, the class discusses the topic and I answer questions and
fill in gaps.
I have students fill out an evaluation with open-ended questions after the
simulation (included in the appendix). The purpose of this evaluation was for students to
think about the simulation and for me to gauge the points of interest and what needs
clarification in the follow-up class. I asked the students about the best, worst, and most
striking part of the simulation. I also asked what else they wanted to learn about this
subject. Additionally, I asked students if they felt there was a winner in the moral sense
of having the best case. This question produced interesting results. The last question
asked participants to rate their performance. Due to the wording and open-ended nature
of the questions, students responded by discussing their ideas of the conflict itself, the
topic, and new questions they wanted to explore. In the best, worst, and most striking
questions students commented on their learning experience.
Student Opinions: The Environment and Effort in the Simulation
As others have found, students enjoyed the simulations, were enthusiastic about
them, and referred to the knowledge learned from these classes in future classes
(DiGiacomo 2000: 3). They found the simulations an effective learning shortcut to much
reading and study, and put a good deal of effort into the simulations. Students stated that
they learned a lot through this teaching method. They particularly liked the interaction
among players and felt it was most helpful in learning the conflicts.
I'm impressed I learned as much as I did--[the conflict was] very confusing with
so many groups/positions.
Two hours without a break (not a complaint) and I think we could have continued
for two more hours.
I learned more in 3 minutes about [the group] than by all the reading.
I thought this method … was a valuable way to get a grasp of the basic issue of
this conflict.
This was a really efficient way to learn a great deal about the Arab-Israeli Peace
process, past and present.
[What I liked best was] essentially having the positions presented in a clear
concise manner without having to put the effort into researching in depth the
material.
4


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