[Ed ,note]: I wonder if any of our readers use this resource, and what their reaction might be to this development. Below is an excerpt from the larger article. What are the strengths and pitfalls of role-play concerning highly emotional historical subjects?]
College Professors Drop Slavery Role-Playing Lesson Over Concerns It Upsets Students
Wall Street Journal, May 13, 2022 (behind a paywall)
by Douglas Belkin
The directors of a role-playing game that requires students to debate slavery pulled it from print recently after college students and professors complained that advocating for, or listening to, the views of white supremacists made them uncomfortable.
The move has sparked debate among historians, and some professors who use the lesson plan said withdrawing the game infringes on academic freedom and teaching about race in America. Nationwide, schools from kindergartens to colleges are scrutinizing materials resulting in an increase in book bans at public schools and a series of protests preventing controversial figures from speaking on campuses.
Last month, Reacting to the Past removed from print the game featuring Frederick Douglass, an escaped slave turned abolitionist and author. The game was launched in 2010 but was drawing increasing concern from professors that students may either sympathize with the white supremacist rhetoric at the core of the debate—or be offended by it, said Nicolas Proctor, editorial board director of Reacting to the Past....
“Racist speech can easily create an unsafe environment,” he wrote in an email to the game’s co-creator. It “can be demoralizing and triggering, particularly for African-American students.”
The game is effective because it requires empathy to succeed, said Mark Thompson, who uses the game in his introduction to rhetoric class at California State University at Stanislaus. The shift in perspective helps students understand how others can hold vastly different beliefs because they are products of their time and context.
“To persuade someone to actually change, you must understand those core values and beliefs,” Dr. Thompson said....
Read the rest of the article here.