Classroom Teachers: The Chaotic Good

I was hanging out on Facebook of all places the other day when I stumbled across this article from MindShift by Paul Darvasi on the multi-disciplinary benefits of using role playing games like Dungeons & Dragons in the classroom. If you’re new to gamification (or are, like myself, a total outsider to the world of D&D) — have no fear. This piece keeps a bird’s eye view on the whole role playing game (or “RPG”) phenomenon,  steering clear of the nitty gritty geek stuff, and choosing instead to focus on the cross-curricular advantages of how a simple simulation “game” like Dungeons & Dragons helps to craft an organic blend of information across multiple fields of study. Take, for example:

  • The FANTASY (literature) elements of the main gameplay narrative
  • The SCIENCE elements of developing armors, charms, and attack skill trees
  • The MATH involved with dice rolling, probability, statistics, and chance
  • The HISTORY and local color “folklore” of game characters, settings, family trees
  • The CULTURAL elements of interacting with characters of different races, creeds, and ancestries

If you’re still feeling overwhelmed, don’t panic. If you can make it through a season of Game of Thrones or keep tabs on who’s who in Avengers: Endgame, then you are more than capable of handling a little old-school RPG tabletop game dorkery. Promise! But even if you’re not a “gamer” in the traditional sense of the word, this piece breaks things down in a crystal clear fashion that makes it an easy point of entry for even the most hesitant of educator-turned-gamer types. I was really quite struck by one passage from the article in particular that’s simply too good not to share:

“The teachers and professors who have experimented with D&D in their practice are also players who have experienced the force of shaping and reshaping stories. Whether deliberately or inadvertently, they use the power learned in the realms of fantasy to hack an all too real educational narrative. In Dungeons & Dragons parlance, their race is Human, their class is Pedagog, and their moral alignment is clearly Chaotic Good, whose description in the Player’s Handbook is eerily suitable:

A chaotic good character does what is necessary to bring about change for the better, disdains bureaucratic organizations that get in the way of social improvement, and places a high value on personal freedom, not only for oneself, but for others as well.

All in all — a quick read but a really great one.

Reblogging the link here one more time for anyone looking for yet another reason to roll the dice with a splash of gamification in their classroom.

Author: John

John Meehan (@MeehanEDU) is an English teacher and school instructional coach at Bishop O’Connell High School in Arlington, Virginia. He began his teaching career in 2010 as a career switcher through The New Teacher Project, after spending five years working in social media and event marketing. He is a 2017 ASCD Emerging Leader, and an alumnus of the 2016-2018 Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Teacher Advisory Council. In 2016, he was named one of Arlington, Virginia’s “40 Under 40” by the Leadership Center for Excellence. He is a past presenter and regular attendee at educational conferences throughout the United States, including the annual conference for National Catholic Education Association, ASCD Empower19, and the Play Like a Champion Today: Character Education Through Sports summer conference at the University of Notre Dame. He’s an avid runner who’s completed more than three dozen marathons, half marathons, long-distance road relays, mud runs, and obstacle course races. John lives in Silver Spring, Maryland with his wife, Laura, a high school music teacher and fellow graduate of The Catholic University of America, and a giant-sized Maine Coon cat named Jack.

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