• Culture Matters

    Posted by PAUL HNIZDIL on 5/23/2022

    After the 8th grade experience with the WPG, one thing became very clear: Culture Matters. 


    For secondary students, it is important that they come from a classroom environment where public communication, critical thinking and academic risk-taking are the norm.  Such an environment gives students a little bit of experience before taking on the WPG.  Otherwise, the WPG is too overwhelming and not enough students will make it through the phases of the WPG.  


    Lesson for the facilitators: If you build it, they will thrive.  



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  • How About One More

    Posted by PAUL HNIZDIL on 5/2/2022

    During our team's debrief following the last game, Helena Stickland wondered if it was possible to run one of her classes through the game before this school year ended.  Her reasoning really got us thinking.  What if?  Why not? How so?  What are the implications?  

    What does one do with a new problem to solve?  World Peace Game it of course.   Just ask the questions.  


    1.  Can we afford it?  

    2.  Can we accept the consequences?

    3.  Does it make sense? 


    In short, we can do it with a little bit of logistical wrangling and a whole lot of preparation for Helena.  Into the WPG breach goes Helena's 2nd Period 8th Grade World History class. 


    Mrs. Strickland at the helm.


    We are excited about this round because Helena is the lead facilitator.  (Remember she was part of the second cadre to get trained.) Moreover, this game is another test in our experiment. 


    What will happen?  We will see.  We will see.

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  • We Did It!

    Posted by PAUL HNIZDIL on 4/8/2022 11:00:00 AM

    We did it!  It's taken a couple of school years, but we completed the first phase of this WPG initiative. 


    We cycled all five of my history classes of the 2021-2022 school year through the World Peace Game.  It feels great to actually reach this milestone.   It was tough.  Working five classes has been a unique and significant challenge for me.  There were days I wasn’t sure what the other classes were doing or doing next.  I felt like a NASCAR team owner who has 5 cars racing at Bristol, and not all my cars are on the lead lap.  Did one crash into the wall? Maybe 😉


    Gratefully during some of the tougher times, I could hear John whispering, "I don’t know how you are going to do it.  It is going to be tough.  I don’t know how, but I think you can do it.”  Yes we did. 


    This milestone would not have been reached without great support.  THANK YOU to


    John Hunter for the vision, the platform, training, encouragement and mentoring.  You said several times during our training, the WPG is a trap.  It’s a trojan horse.  Indeed, it is.  The WPG is not really about playing a game to achieve peace.  It is so much more. More for the students and teachers alike.  Wow.  As we’ve said before, we can’t thank you enough. 


    Suzan Brandt who talked about the game to Tami in the library one fateful fall day in 2018.  They started to ponder, “What if…?”  That conversation moved to “Hey, Niz!  Come here…what do you think…” Before Jimmy could crack corn, the initial team grew when Holly Martin agreed to get on this wild ride.    


    The Mountain Brook Foundation for believing in our vision for the WPG.  The foundation was instrumental in helping us overcome the biggest obstacle.  They funded two training opportunities and materials to build our games.  It was a large investment for sure.     


    Donald Clayton for having faith and trusting us that this initiative would be in the best interest of kids, even though you may not have fully understood.  Frankly, we are still trying to figure it out ourselves. 


    Tami Genry and Holly Martin.  That was a heck of a first trip.  I remember we left for Miami with such confidence and vigor.  “We got this.  We’ll come back ready to rock.”  We knew what we were getting into, and we were confident that we would come back equipped with the tools to build the WPG at the JH.  No sweat. 


    Wait…what just happened?  I for one, came back thinking, “Now what?”  I wasn’t as confident.  In fact, I had doubts.   It wasn’t until later that I realized John’s genius.   He World Peace Gamed us.  Our game, our crisis was to figure out the implementation.  John gave us all we needed, but none of the solutions.  We were experiencing  the first stages of the WPG – Overwhelming Confusion and Despair.  Together we worked the crises not with “What ifs” of potential problems but with “What ifs” as well as “Yes, ands…” that moved us towards solutions.  In time, we moved through the other stages – Futile Effort, Experimental Collaboration, and THE CLICK. 


    Each of you ladies expertly used your talents and experience to keep this train on the tracks, especially when I was driving a bit radically.  Without a doubt, the WPG would not be in the JH if you were not on this team.  Thank you for being “Ruth” and “Jiminy Cricket” in those early days.  There is no one else I would have wanted to start this ride with. 


    Matt Howard and Helena Strickland for your willingness to follow this old fool on what may have seemed like a fool’s mission.  You are essential to the future of the WPG at the JH.


    Michelle Rose for being the unsung hero in this entire process.  All great strategists know that battles are not won solely in the trenches.  Logistics is always the link to ultimate victory.  Michelle, your work behind the scenes preparing for the very first game and every game since is indispensable.  Without you, there is no WPG at the JH.  I’d still be looking for satellites to put on the board.  😊


    Tami Genry.  I want to thank you again. You have been with me every step of the way.  Part of every game.  Every game your experience, intelligence, insight, encouragement and kind rebukes proved to be invaluable to the success of the WPG.  You are a perfect older (barely 😉) sister in this WPG family of ours.     


    We now have 11 successful games on the tote board since the spring of 2019.  Tami and I are firmly in the last two stages – Flow State and Mastery.  I think Tami and I can attest, no two games are alike.  What will the next 5 games bring?  What will the students experience and learn?  In what ways will we continue to evolve as facilitators and traditional teachers? 


    Stay tuned.  Come on down.  We will see.  We will see indeed.


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  • No Solutions. Only Trade-offs.

    Posted by PAUL HNIZDIL on 5/25/2021

    Building on last year's 4 rounds of the World Peace Game, we were anxiously looking forward to getting 5-6 this 2020-21 school year.  Then it all came crashing down.


    In spite of the unwonted circumstances, we were able to facilitate one game this year.  It was a very interesting game, to say the least.  We are learning with each and every game that no game is the same from the previous. Some things happened this time that none of us anticipated.   We were so befuddled by the decisions Tami and I called John Hunter for some guidance and wisdom.  Of course, John didn't offer any solutions. He did what he had taught us to do.  He asked us questions, affirmed our efforts, and encouraged us to press on.  


    By the rules and criteria of the game, the players won the game.  However, was the world a better place?  In achieving victory, did the players build a better world from the start of the game?  The consensus from the group was no.  The world was more militarily and politically volatile and on a path for long-term irreversible ecological destruction.   This led to a great two-day debrief when we were able to deep dive into the decisions, intended results, and unintended consequences.  With the latter bringing the more significant reflections. 


    How often do we all, students and adults, focus on the short-term solutions or actions without considering the long-range implications, especially if the short term delivers us the immediate and intended results, rewards, or goals?  


    Because of this game, we are adding a third criterion needed to win the game.  To win 1) Solve all crises in the manual and any additional crises from game play.  2) Each nation must increase its financial standing  3) The world must be a better place? 


    Economist Thomas Sowell once said, when it comes to policy there are no solutions.  There are only trade-offs.  This clearly played out in this year's WPG.  

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  • Welcome to the WPG Family

    Posted by PAUL HNIZDIL on 3/5/2020

    Matt Matt Howard 


    Helena Helena Stover

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  • Empty Space

    Posted by PAUL HNIZDIL on 3/4/2020

    The World Peace Game creates an empty space.  I heard this statement before over the last year when John and others were talking about what the WPG creates.   Not wanting to be exposed, I dutifully nodded my head in agreement or gave some verbal affirmation to let others know that I was in the loop.  One of the select, one of the washed as if I was at a Wednesday Night Prayer Meeting.  Truth be told, I did not really get it.  How can something so complex be an empty space?  It´s not empty at all.  Giving into my own fears of being exposed as not understanding or worse as a fraud, I stayed quiet.  


    This week I finally saw the light.  I now have an understanding of what is meant when John says empty space.  The empty space is merely creating an opportunity for students to discover their own solutions to simple or complex problems.  The empty space is not to be filled with only the right answers.  In fact, the empty space just wants solutions.  It does not judge right or wrong, good or bad, effective or ineffective solutions.  


    The WPG, although complex and full in so many ways, is an empty space ready for the players to fill with their solutions, their consequences, leading to more opportunities for more solutions to the next set of problems.  The empty space is never filled.  


    The WPG is but one door to this realm of authentic learning.  In what ways can we create other empty space opportunities with our curriculum?

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  • Fear

    Posted by PAUL HNIZDIL on 3/3/2020

    After observing the morning's game play, the facilitators move to the meta-PLC phase of the training, as John calls it.  Today's activity was a discussion of our  self-identified strengths and fears.  Interestingly, the strengths listed were in the categories of relationship and values relationships, such as compassionate, empathetic, curious, community-building and the like.  


    What stood out to me more was our listed fears: disappointment, not doing our best, not good enough, getting it wrong, lack of respect, running out of time, apathy, not knowing the answers, not making a difference.  


    Here is what hit me with the list of fears.  If we asked our students to list their fears in the classroom, I think they would have the same list.  


    If this is so, what is the implication of this understanding as a teacher in today's classroom? 



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  • Taking Our Talents to Miami, Again

    Posted by PAUL HNIZDIL on 3/2/2020

    I'm back in Miami for some more training in the WPG. This time I brought with me Matt Howard and Helena Strickland.  These two are getting a full dose of all that isthe WPG.  No more hearing me talk about it.  No more watching a few sessions in my classroom or the library.  It is about to get real for them.  What will they take away from the week in Miami? 




    During the debrief and Meta-PLC after the morning session, John reminded us of the following cardinal rule for the facilitator: Do not interfere.  Do not solve the problems.  Trust the process of the WPG. Trust that the WPG is self-regulating and self-correcting. Trust that the students will figure it out.  


    In what ways can we take this understanding and rule to other classroom activities outside the WPG?  Consider the implications for student learning if we did.  

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  • Peace on Earth by Ainsley Eckhoff

    Posted by PAUL HNIZDIL on 2/28/2020

    Peace On Earth

    Ainsley Eckhoff, Weather Goddess

    Let there be peace on earth

    And let it begin with me

    Let there be peace on earth

    The peace that was meant to be. . .




    The World Peace Game is momentous

    With Advance World History apprentice,

    There are no rules but that’s not true,

    Jump in and play, it will pull through.


    Top-secret and silence is a must

    To not influence others or it’s a bust.

    With only nine key players,

    The game offers many layers.


    The game board has four levels,

    With several hidden rebels,

    Water, land, airspace, and space,

    The four nations are the game’s base.


    Grulandia, Avacadia, Brownlatte , and C.O.L.D.,

    Argue and fight over resources such as oil and gold

    As they work to solve crises of twenty-three

    Without angering the Greatest Weather Goddess, me.




    There is the United Nations and the world bank,

    Being careful to not let the World tank,

    And the Arms Dealer and the World Court,

    Make for a game of great sport.


    It's a game of negotiations

    Between the World Peace Games’ nations

    A nation has five minutes representing each day

    To state their declaration and have their say.




    Before the nation can move on,

    Two planes must be landed and gone,

    The Weather Goddess can roll her dice or coin flip,

    To decide the outcome of the nation’s grip.




    There are two wheels that one can spin

    To see how they affect all of men

    Fate is determined by the Economy and Weather wheel

    Will there be no change or a blizzard in the deal?




    Stocks plummet, rain falls

    The Weather Goddess determines the severity of it all

    Next, a wild card is drawn

    To determine the consequences of tomorrow’s dawn.


    The day comes to a mort,

    When the Weather Goddess gives her final report,

    Then for the next game day to arrive,

    Another chance for the nations to thrive.




    Brothers all are we

    Let me walk with my brother

    In perfect harmony

    Let peace begin with me

    Let this be the moment now

    With every step I take

    Let this be my solemn vow. . .

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  • Dear Parents of ...

    Posted by PAUL HNIZDIL on 2/27/2020



    Combat in the WPG is an option for the players.  In fact, the game starts with the world on the brink of conflict. Players can engage in combat, the facilitators don't interfere nor do we necessarily say no to nations wanting to engage in combat. We merely ask the three basic questions:  Can you afford it?  Can you live with the consequences?  Does it make sense?  Additionally, we may ask follow up questions to flush out their reasoning.  Final question is do they plan to kill of capture. Of course, the answer will bring its own potential consequences.


    One of John’s  requirements for combat is that the leadership of the nation engaging in combat write a letter to the parents of the fallen soldiers explaining the sacrifice. This is essential for it helps students understand the seriousness of war and that lives will be lost.  Moms will grieve and often wonder if the national sacrifice was worth their sons' lives.    



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