HIGH POINT, N.C., April 1, 2019 – High Point University’s faculty visited the past to discover new ways to better educate their students in the present during a Reacting to the Past conference held on campus on March 29 and 30.
Reacting to the Past shows how knowledge and skills are exchanged in an educational context. During each game, HPU faculty and faculty from various colleges and universities took on roles in elaborate games set in the past in order to solve complex issues.
“It’s been shown that Reacting to the Past helps students develop leadership skills because they have to stand up and defend their positions,” said Dr. Kirstin Squint, associate professor of English. “It helps them develop public speaking skills and there is some evidence it helps develop confidence.”
HPU student Lillian Morris, a junior strategic communication major, has participated in a Reacting to the Past game in Squint’s classroom and helped with the conference.
“It’s engaging and gets you excited to attend class,” said Morris. “It allows you to immerse yourself into the culture of the time period as well as your character that you’re assigned.”
The games faculty took part in were Greenwich Village, 1913: Suffrage, Labor and the New Woman, and Rousseau, Burke and Revolution in France, 1791.
“King Louis XVI is sitting right there and the question is, will he or will he not lose his head eventually in this?” explained Squint. “The point of all this is to learn history in a more interesting and active way for our students so they become emotionally invested in the primary documents they have to read.”
Reacting roles, unlike those in a play, do not have a fixed script and outcome. Participants adhere to the philosophical and intellectual beliefs of the historical figures they are assigned to play, but they devise their own means of expressing those ideas persuasively in papers, speeches and other public presentations.
“This group of faculty only had their roles for less than a week, and look how passionate they are,” said Squint. “This happens in the classroom, and it’s so neat to see from an instructor’s perspective.”
This opportunity was possible through a 2018-19 HPU Think BIG! Grant.