Innovative teachers use French Revolution role-playing game

BY RENNIE PATTERSON-BAILEY
PATTERSL@MTMARY.EDU

The French Revolution is coming to Mount Mary University
this fall in a four-credit honors course featuring a Reacting
to the Past (RTTP) role-playing game. The course is a
collaboration between the English and history departments,
and is the first of its kind at Mount Mary.

RTTP games were pioneered in the late 1990s by Mark
Carnes, professor of history at Barnard College in New York
City. According to the Barnard College website, RTTP consists
of games where students study history and other academic
disciplines by role playing. The goal is to help students
improve skills such as speaking, writing, problem solving and
critical thinking.

The course “will focus on the French Revolution and literary
Romanticism from British, French and American perspectives,”
according to the Mount Mary course description.

Students will be assigned literary and historical readings from
the era under discussion and then given a role to play in the
interactive game.

The course will be team-taught by Paula Reiter, Ph.D.,
professor in the English department, and Julie C. Tatlock,
Ph.D., professor in the history department, both of whom
have extensive knowledge of the French Revolution. Students
can take the class for either literature or history core credit.

“It is my first experience with a team-taught course of any
kind, but English and history are natural allies in the expression
of the human past,” Tatlock said.

Reiter first learned about the RTTP pedagogy in an article
in The Chronicle of Higher Education.

“Over 350 colleges now have RTTP courses, and students
report that they work harder and have more fun in those
classes,” Reiter said. “Then I thought, it would be even better
to team teach with a history professor!”

Reiter contacted Tatlock to see if she would be interested in
collaborating on a course.

“I am always interested in new ways of teaching history
and it is particularly relevant given Mount Mary’s interest in
creativity,” Tatlock said.

In July, Reiter and Tatlock will travel to Barnard College to
attend the RTTP Game Development Conference and learn
exactly how to implement the curriculum.

“The Barnard conference is the best place to learn about
RTTP so we are very lucky to get to participate,” Reiter said.
“We are especially thankful for the creativity grant and the
minigrant for travel that Mount Mary awarded us to fund
this experience.”

Both Reiter and Tatlock look forward to attending the
conference.

“I hope to learn how to engage students in this kind of
material on a deeper level that is also fun and creative,” Tatlock
said. “Students will learn to steep themselves in complex
arguments and learn how to express themselves in new ways.
It will also challenge us, as instructors, to think and engage in
new kinds of teaching and learning.”

To learn more about the RTTP program based on the French Revolution, watch the video HERE.

PHOTO BY SOPHIE BECK ILLUSTRATION BY RENNIE PATTERSON-BAILEY

PHOTO BY SOPHIE BECK
ILLUSTRATION BY RENNIE PATTERSON-BAILEY

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