SIUC History Course: Reacting to the Past

George Washington’s army has arrived in
New York thank you I’m professor Joe Sramek associate
professor in history and I teach with this method called reacting to the past. I
am here to formally declare mr. Alexander Hamilton a traitor and asked
that he be tried in a court of law for his treason against the British crown he
will quote I will stand to defend New York from the British with my rifle in
one hand and my involves elaborate historical role-playing games for
students take on the perspectives of the past and argue those viewpoints through
speeches and Papers written from the perspective of their characters this is
a brand new experience and learning about history for me in reacting you get
to put yourself in the position of the event and try to understand all the
concepts of what’s going on these games are very elaborately designed and so the
what will happen is the student will get a roll street and a roll sheet will be
very elaborate several pages long description of who the character and
history they’re playing what that characters goals are how they can win
those goals or cheap try to achieve those goals I can easily chalk this up as one of the
best classes that I’ve actually been taking here at SIU given the chance I
would recommend it to anybody just the intensity it’s such a different
environment you used to be lecturer than you used to people are like old
history’s boring you’re just gonna sit there hear a lecture read a book in the
American Revolution game my first role was a woman she was a tavern owner in
New York her name was Margaret Dumont we just played the American Revolution I
was a loyalist and I feel like now I see a different perspective I kind of see
the stuff that people don’t see or don’t necessarily stress when they’re teaching
the course the the collective game design is what helps teach the
alternative points of view it’s given me the opportunity to understand how the
world is developing outside of the lens of America someone once said that it
brought the emotion that you don’t see in history you read about it and you
just kind of forget about it but if you’re playing it you have different
feelings about it so you kind of see where people are coming from the game
does a very good job despite its seemed to be chaos at times was a very
good job at actually teaching the fact that there are a variety of viewpoints
on and that there were a variety of
different perspectives that were engaging with one another you know those
other perspectives that sometimes get ignored in history when you’re reading a
textbook come alive in the game with reacted to past the enrollment the
regular attendance was considerably higher and a lot of days because it’s
the drama and we want to know how it unfolds and I’m really impressed with
how active my classrooms are now and how many students are participating actively
you know they’re really learning the average GPA when I talked to class last
semester was about 0.7 higher so I think it works I would wholeheartedly
recommend this as a way of teaching I think it is incredibly effective it
brings a lot of joy to to history for bringing your a-game because it’s best
to be ready for what you’re gonna get into

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