Jeremiah McCall teaches history and, less frequently, simulation design and computer programming at Cincinnati Country Day School. He is a historian by training with a Ph.D. in Greco-Roman history and is the author of "The Cavalry of the Roman Republic." His main concern as a teacher and educational researcher is to train students in the skills of the historian, particularly source criticism, and the ability to create and critique interpretations of the past. To this end, he experiments with the effective classroom use of computer games and tabletop simulations as historical interpretations that can be critiqued by students. He is currently researching a book on the design and use of historical simulations in the high school classroom.
Designing and Critiquing Simulation Games as Historical Interpretations
Historical simulation games, when treated as interpretations of the past, can play vital roles in training students to think and act as historians. Certain computer games, Rome: Total War among them, present detailed models of historical cause and effect. Consequently, students can hone their historical skills by selecting valid evidence and using that evidence to critique these games’ models. Students can also move beyond criticism to design their own simulation-based interpretations of the past. In doing so they must practice the skills of the historian, especially the abilities to use valid historical evidence, generalize from specific instances, and discriminate between the essential and non-essential features of historical processes. When simulation games are used in these ways, students can learn to critique others’ interpretations of reality and build their own defensible reconstructions. Jeremiah McCall will discuss these principles and their application in his history and simulation design classes at Cincinnati Country Day School.