Minds on Fire: How Role-Immersion Games Transform College

Minds on Fire: How Role-Immersion Games Transform College

by Mark C. Carnes


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A Choice Outstanding Academic Title of the Year

In Minds on Fire, Mark C. Carnes shows how role-immersion games channel students’ competitive (and sometimes mischievous) impulses into transformative learning experiences. His discussion is based on interviews with scores of students and faculty who have used a pedagogy called Reacting to the Past, which features month-long games set during the French Revolution, Galileo’s trial, the partition of India, and dozens of other epochal moments in disciplines ranging from art history to the sciences. These games have spread to over three hundred campuses around the world, where many of their benefits defy expectations.

“[Minds on Fire is] Carnes’s beautifully written apologia for this fascinating and powerful approach to teaching and learning in higher education. If we are willing to open our minds and explore student-centered approaches like Reacting [to the Past], we might just find that the spark of student engagement we have been searching for in higher education’s mythical past can catch fire in the classrooms of the present.”
—James M. Lang, Chronicle of Higher Education

“This book is a highly engaging and inspirational study of a ‘new’ technique that just might change the way educators bring students to learning in the 21st century.”
—D. D. Bouchard, Choice

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780674984097
Publisher: Harvard
Publication date: 03/05/2018
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 400
Product dimensions: 5.10(w) x 7.90(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Mark C. Carnes is Professor of History at Barnard College, Columbia University.

Table of Contents

Debate at Dawn 1

Chapter 1 "All Classes Are Sorta Boring" 17

Chapter 2 Subversive Play: The Bane of Higher Education 37

Chapter 3 Creating an Academic Subversive Play World 63

Chapter 4 Critical Thinking and Our Selves 87

Chapter 5 Overcoming the Silence of the Students 124

Chapter 6 Learning by Failing 151

Chapter 7 Building Community and Global Citizenship 181

Chapter 8 Inculcating Morality and Empathy (!) 207

Chapter 9 Teaching Leadership through Teamwork 228

Chapter 10 Teaching the Past by Getting It Wrong? 246

Chapter 11 The Strange World outside the Box 271

Socrates at Sunset 299

Appendix: List of Reacting Games 305

Notes 308

Acknowledgments 368

Index 373

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