Thursday, September 3, 2009

"The Game"

Sophomore year I decided to major in philosophy. I took an introductory course with my soon-to-be college advisor, who was inspiring and passionate about her subject. She had a way of explaining the material and prompting discussion that made me want to do the reading and participate in class discussions. But I had further motivation for my hard work in the class - a game.

Katherine, a friend and sorority sister of mine, sat beside me and we quickly befriended two boys who sat nearby. Early in the semester, the four of us began playing "the game" and as a result, we became the star students and key contributors to class discussion. I don't remember whose idea it was originally, but "the game" became a fascination for us.

Just before each class, we agreed on a word to incorporate into discussion, as well as chose a score-keeper for the day. Throughout the hour, each time the word was used without giggles, the user received a point. The scorekeeper deducted points for laughing and awarded extra points if the professor used the "word of the day" during your turn. After using the word, you had to wait for someone else in the group to use it before you could take another turn. This kept the game interactive and moving.

We selected words based on how they sounded, how challenging it would be for us to incorporated them into the discussion (and it was meant to be a challenge), and how often we used the words on a regular basis in our daily lives (the less frequent, the better). We used: "terrifying," "tiger," "quintessential," and "oblong," among others.

My favorite use of the word of the day was when we used "tiger". The class was discussing applied ethics. To support her main point (I don't remember now what that was), Katherine gave an example that compared human interaction to the relationship between a tiger and an antelope. The example was drawn out and awarded Katherine and all four of us lots of points for the day, since that one example stayed alive for a good 30 minutes of class-time.

"The game" was something that kept us motivated and entertained through sometimes slow-moving subject matter. I still wonder if our professor knew...

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