Wargames are Not Just Entertaining, They’re Educational Too

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Having a strong background in teaching and education, I wanted to blog about how playing wargames can teach kids about history in a fun environment. For many years computer wargaming has been used to teach and train military officers on the technique of command-level decision making. Many of the great battles fought have been won or lost as a result of a key decision made by the military leaders in charge.

Robert E. Lee

Robert E Lee

My father had a career as a Government Military Analyst and one of the many areas he focused on was studying and analyzing those key decisions which were turning points in the outcome of war. He analyzed the cause and effect of those decisions as well as the multitude of rippling effects. His career directly related to his passion and interest in wargaming. Wargaming is a method dating back many years used in rehearsing a battle before and after it is fought. For many decades it has been utilized by the military in nearly every country. The Japanese used wargaming to strategically plan their attack on the United States at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.

Thus, wargaming can be a great tool to teach students about history. Within wargaming, students can role play a scenario and pretend they are, for instance, Robert E. Lee in the Battle of Gettysburg. This will entice their interest in learning more about history. TheΒ Squad Leader page has a number of computer wargames kids (and grown-ups) can play which offers the the ability to recreate the historical environment to the exact level of detail and realism needed for every pupil to comprehend and appreciate the decisions made in battle by the military leaders who fought them.

As people, we are visual by nature. People, young and old, typically learn better with visualization and simulated scenarios. Students can read textbooks about history and they might remember some of what they read, but if they are given a simulated computer game which shows them exactly what happened with all the details laid out, they will learn much quicker and gain a deeper appreciation and excitement for the subject of military and American history.


 

6 Comments

  1. Sylvia

    Hi Stephanie!
    I’ve never thought that war-games are educational, but I think I can understand it.
    It’s really a great idea.
    I’m sure I can learn history better by playing wargames. πŸ˜€
    Thanks for sharing!

    Reply
    1. Stephanie (Post author)

      Hi Sylvia:

      Thank you for reviewing the post. I appreciate you taking the time to stop and leave a comment. With so many of being visual learners, there can be a benefit to learning through role playing. I got the idea from another comment I received on the Naschon 2015 page. A teacher had asked about me “things like this kids can get involved in” and I gave the matter some thought about how learning through visualization can increase understanding.

      Thank you for stopping. Come back again soon.

      Steph

      Reply
  2. John

    Hi Steph,

    It’s so true that we are much more likely to remember and learn better if we can use visual aids rather than just reading textbooks.

    I can see how someone taking part in an actual reconstruction of a historical battle will be able to recall much more detail and have a much better understanding of the real event.

    I wish I thought of this when I was younger I could have said to my teachers that I wasn’t playing games I was actually studying history!

    Best wishes
    John

    Reply
    1. Stephanie (Post author)

      Hi John:

      Thank you for stopping by and leaving your wonderful comment.

      Research shows us that most students in a regular ed classroom need to β€œsee” the details in order to fully understand the material. Visual learning is a learning style in which the learner needs the information, concept and ideas presented in a form of imagery in order to comprehend the material.

      I got a chuckle from your comment regarding a student who is caught playing war games at school – he could make the argument they are studying the finer details of the battles fought in the Civil War, studying history as you said. Perhaps the teacher would show a little leniency. πŸ™‚

      Thank you again for taking the time to leave a comment.

      Stephanie

      Reply
  3. Stephen and Jennifer

    Hi Stephanie,

    For enthusiasts of War Games your site would be the place to go. Well written and lots of information here.

    As for being education, I also think that to be a debatable point but an opinion some would share? Wishing you great success,

    Stephen & Jennifer.

    Reply
    1. Stephanie (Post author)

      Hi Stephen & Jennifer:

      Thank you for leaving a comment. I am hoping enthusiasts of wargames would find my site appealing. Thank you for the compliment on the writing.

      And yes, I agree with you that a healthy debate on whether or not wargames are educational for teaching history could be generated from my post.

      Have a good day!

      Stephanie

      Reply

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