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Place out of Time


Place out of Time (aka POOT) is a trans-historical simulation in which the participants (be they MS/HS students or university mentors) participate "in character." Each of your students would either choose a historical or a contemporary figure whom they would learn about and ultimately portray in our simulated "trial." In a sense, POOT is an attempt to "bring the wisdom of history" to a contemporary issue--all of the participants are invited to the Alhambra Palace in Spain to be a part of the deliberations of the "Court of All Time."

Here's our Winter 2016 Scenario


Our Winter 2016 trial is based on an issue that is on the docket for the European Parliament, involving the possibility of a complete ban on the sale of seal products in the EU. There had been an exemption for Inuit peoples in Greenland to sell their products, but the WTO wants a full-scale ban enforced. Despite this exemption to the 2009 ban, the ban has wrought havoc on the Inuit economy (and that of Greenland more generally). So much so, in fact, that Greenpeace--which originally pushed for the ban--has reversed course and now opposes it....but is it already too late? It's adds up to a complicated circumstance where issues of environmental stewardship, economics, culture, and do-gooderism are all in the mix.

The challenge for the student participants is to become well-enough acquainted with their chosen character to not only know details about their life and beliefs (the students' first task is to write a short, narrative "resume" in the first person) but to then think deeply enough about what makes them tick to be able to imagine what they might have to say about the free speech/legal/moral issues of the trial. In time, your student portraying, let's say, Malcolm X, will also be conversing with Gandhi, Winnie Mandela and Senator Joseph McCarthy (and many more) with the hope being that kids will be engaged in a thought-proving activity that will provide a new twist on studying history, and provide a compelling context for thinking and writing. As you might imagine, we also rely heavily on elements of story and theatricality, and the narrative of the trial typically is guided in large measure by what goes on in the discussions, and the actual trial. The students are assisted in their work by university student mentors, students in mentor seminars on both the Ann Arbor and Flint campuses of the University of Michigan, who engage the students in private conversations and try to push them to think more deeply.

These videos provides a quick introduction to the project, from the perspective of student participants:

Checking out POOT
URL: http://poot.icsmich.org/

demo login:milarepa@fall12
demo password: umbrella

Feel free to explore, and/or to click on Guides and Materials on the main page of the site to download the Website Quick Guide, which will show you how to navigate the site.

Here's a link to a recent article of ours about the "serious play" aspect of the simulation: