Reacting to the Past (RTTP) consists of elaborate games, set in the past, in which students are assigned roles informed by primary and secondary sources. Class sessions are run by students; instructors advise and guide students and grade their oral and written work according to agreed upon criteria. This pedagogy seeks to draw students into the past, promote engagement with important human issues and dynamics while focusing on intellectual, academic and communication skills. It also allows students to argue in favor of perspectives with which they may not agree in a safe environment. All of the games are set in the past, and thus might be regarded as history, but games may also explore other disciplines. Part of the intellectual appeal of RTTP is that it transcends disciplinary structures. Pioneered in the late 1990s by Mark C. Carnes, Professor of History at Barnard College, the RTTP curriculum has been implemented by faculty at hundreds colleges and universities in the U.S. and abroad since dissemination began in 2001. (For more on RTTP, see https://reacting.barnard.edu/)
In January, Professors Kathy Morse and Darién Davis attended the Reacting to the Past’s Winter Conference on Venturesome Pedagogy for the Twenty-First Century. In this lunchtime discussion, Darién Davis will share insights from this conference and his experience with introducing RTTP approaches in his classes.
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