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Colonial River Oak

Experiential Learning is a priority at River Oak Academy. This week we turned learning upside down as we went back to colonial times. Tensions were high and talks of revolution and independence swept our young nation. Colonists (formerly known as Learners) entered into session 3 and it was colonial times- a game (rather an experiment) in which we imagined King George III had taken over our studios and issued taxes and royal proclamations delivered via his Royal Governors (formerly known as guides). Learners walked into a strict environment where they had to remain seated in their assigned seats. They were told they would be taxed with points for things such as water, school supplies, using the bathroom, etc. No technology was allowed. They quickly realized that this was not the River Oak Academy they all know and love. Loyalist and Patriot roles were assigned. Loyalists were taxed less. The tension grew quickly in the studio. No one was happy. Except, for the royal subjects (Spark Learners) of the queen (Mrs. Kathy). They sipped royal cocoa while the colonists watched with frustration. They wrote letters to to the queen voicing their grievances.

After one day of proclamations, most Colonists were weary and upset while a few were happily playing along with cheerful and positive attitudes despite these newly faced injustices. That night, a few had decided to form a rebellion. Talk of revolution began the next day. This, after only 6 hours under King George’s rule. In the middle of the day, colonists were presented with their options:

  1. Live with the taxes and proclamations (staying safe under King George’s protection) or

  2. Draft and unanimously sign a declaration, go to war, and risk facing severe penalties if the war is lost.

The following morning, freedoms were further limited and talks of revolution became more serious. A petition had been drafted which all of them had signed except one. Needless to say, King George was not pleased when he found out. Those who had signed were sent to jail for treason. The down trodden prisoners had written heartfelt petitions to King George to free them of their oppression. He responded by freeing those who sent letters fervently pleading for pardon while rejecting a petition from one colonist whose letter had hostile undertones. This lone colonist who remained in jail had many faithful and staunch supporters who banded together, refused to be released from prison, gathered together and unitedly chanted, “Heck no! We won’t go!!!” The revolt had reached its pinnacle as colonists in jail were ready to risk it all. They needed to overthrow King George by getting all colonist’s signatures on their petition. But there was one small impediment, the colonist who remained a loyalist refused all their persuasive efforts to sign their petition for freedom.

Then a slow, gentle truce created not by coercion but by a humble apology. They got all signatures needed. Just like the American colonists years ago, some of our young heroes decided it was time for a revolution. The American colonists went to war and battled the British in a brutal game of tug-o-war that would decide their fate. Despite the odds, the staunch colonists won their freedom. In the end the colonists were victorious! Learners reclaimed their most precious and beloved liberty. Freedom in the studio was restored but emotions still remained high.

Reflecting on the Experience

Comments from the Learners about the colonial simulation.

  • I am thankful for freedoms.

  • Taught us about how to be united together.

  • I hated the use of the words, "obey" and "must."

  • "Jail is the worst thing ever!"

  • One lesson from jail I learned was, be mindful of being quiet.

  • We learned something about each other.

  • It was sad to see people crying.

  • I was surprised to walk in to school being this way. It was no fun.

  • With the tea party it mattered most who was NOT invited.

  • Some of the worst parts were losing trust from friends, taxes, not being able to use the bathroom freely, and core skills without technology.

  • My favorite part was the war.

How about the Guides?

This process was very hard on the Guides as they had to pretend to be someone they aren't . We had to pretend to be mean and unaffectionate to our learners. We knew it was for a good cause and we were happy when it was over. We are proud of our learners for participating in such a hard challenge and taking the time to honestly reflect on its purpose in their learning.

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