Broken Squares: A Simulation Exploring Cooperation and Competition
Grade Level: Middle School – Community College
Broken Squares provides an excellent opportunity for introducing the concepts of cooperation and competition and exploring positive models for problem solving. In this activity, participants are confronted with a group task and provided with guidelines for accomplishing the task. Through their own experiences at solving the group "problem," participants will increase their awareness of how individual attitudes and behavior affect group achievement. Participants may also gain a better understanding of the way in which their own attitudes and behavior affect group interactions both in and out of the classroom. Following the activity, participants will engage in a general discussion of the role cooperation and/or competition played in the simulation and then apply their experiences to real life situations.
During the debriefing session, participants will first air their feelings concerning the events that occurred during the activity. A series of questions will allow participants to consider how the cooperative ideal explored in the simulation applies to society in general. You may wish to extend the discussion further to a particular topic under study in your class. This simulation is a proven tool for teaching about international independence and the need for cooperation. It is also an effective activity for opening up a discussion of interpersonal or intergroup issues.
Broken Squares may be used successfully with elementary or secondary school participants, as well as with adults. Suggestions for adapting the discussion for younger participants are provided.
- explore methods of "problem-solving" involving cooperation and/or competition
- experience the need for cooperation in accomplishing a mutual goal
- investigate characteristics of a "society" and how members of a society work together, using knowledge of their own society as a basis
- analyze the concepts of cooperation and competition, and the potential role each must play in a society and between societies