Yesterday evening after class I had a long discussion with a student about the validity of different people’s opinions: the student felt that my opinion was worth more than that of his peers, because I was the teacher and “had more experience.” This led into a rather “post-modern” (to quote my wife) discussion about the lack of objective truth and the value of all opinions.
I mention this because last week I took a group up to London to play a European Parliament simulation, at the EP’s UK office. This is a development of a game I’ve played with students in Brussels, all organised by the EP. Over the past years, I’ve found this has been an excellent opportunity to relate my class-based work to a more applied and specific context. In addition, it has highlighted the value of expertise: Gergely Polner at the EP has been able to bring his extensive institutional knowledge to bear on the design of the game and its subject material. Moreover, his network of contacts meant we were able to get a jury that included both EP officials and representatives from political groups, to give an insight that goes far beyond that which I personally could provide. Coupled to some of the insights that the students gave into how particular issues might play out, everyone learnt something from the event.
The suggestion here is not that you beat a path to your local EP representation (helpful though they are), but to consider getting institutional buy-in from the organisations you might simulate: press offices abound; you or your colleagues have contacts. It’s a relatively low-cost way for everyone to gain something useful (expertise, profile) and it underlines my ‘post-modern’ point about the value that different people can bring to the table.