Critical Thinking Training Through Storytelling

How many stories did you tell today?  One?  Two?  Twenty?

How many stories did you hear?  Can you remember the image you had in your mind when you heard the story?  Could you envision what the characters looked like even if you’ve never met them?

Have you ever met someone and thought “Oh, that’s not what I thought she’d look like”?

We are natural storytellers.  We also naturally create a mental image to go along with the stories we hear or read.  Those mental images stick with us and help us remember the details of the story long term.

And that is why training through storytelling is so effective.

Tell me 10 facts and I may not remember them.  Tell me 10 stories about how those facts made an impact on your life and I will remember them forever.

A great example of successful storytelling in a training context is the FISH Philosophy.  Tell me it’s important to have fun at work, and I’ll roll my eyes at you.  SHOW me a real story of how working in a stinky fish market can be made fun, entertaining, and improve the customer experience, and I’ll remember it for years (for me it has been 11 years to be exact).

Storytelling can be particularly effective in critical thinking training too.  Some people shy away from critical thinking training because it doesn’t sound fun.  It sounds academic and philosophical.  It doesn’t have to be.

By starting with an engaging story of effective thinking, you can create a mental image of how critical thinking works.  Learners can connect with the characters and envision how they would have handled a similar situation.

That’s what Pearson TalentLens is doing with their new half-day training program THINK Now!  Learners start by reading the Now You’re Thinking! book to connect with a heartwarming, heroic story of phenomenal thinking, problem solving and decision making.  Then they take the My Thinking Styles assessment so they can learn which of the 7 Powerful Thinking Styles is their natural approach to thinking.

Next, the trainer connects the story of how Marines saved the life of a 2-year old girl to the 5 Steps to New Thinking and the Thinking Styles.  To create an even stronger mental connection between the critical thinking model and the real-life story described in the Now You’re Thinking! book, the trainer shows video interviews of the Marines involved in saving Amenah’s life.

Participants walk away from the training with a strong understanding of a critical thinking model AND a real life example of how the use of that model has been successful in the past.  Additionally, when they recall the individual differences of each thinking style, they will remember a character from the story that embodied the characteristics of that style.

It is that meaningful connection and mental image that will reinforce the lessons learned for months and years to come.   Try telling a story with a life lesson today and see how long your employees remember it.  You will be amazed by the results.

How do you train critical thinking in your organization?

Now You’re Thinking! is FREE Right Now for Kindle

Has the book Now You’re Thinking! been on your shopping list for a while, but you just haven’t had time to hit the book store?  Well, you’re in luck.  Right now the Kindle version is FREE on Amazon.  Click here to go to the Amazon Kindle Store.  We don’t know how long the book will be free, so go download it now.

Right now Now You’re Thinking! ranked #178 of all books in the Free Kindle store, #1 in Human Resources and Personnel Management, and #1 in Office Skills.

Remember, you don’t have to have a Kindle to read an eBook, you can always use the Kindle app for your iPhone, iPad, PC, Mac or Android device.

 

About the Book

Living the good life and want to make it great? Desperate to give your career an “extreme makeover”? Either way, the changes you want start inside your own head, with the way you think.

This book is the blueprint you need to build greater success by teaching you breakthrough techniques for thinking far more effectively. That’s the secret of making better decisions: whether you’re working toward a promotion or considering refinancing your house. Some thinking processes simply work better than others, and this book teaches you the ones that are proven to work best.

The authors start with the extraordinary true story of Amenah, just two years old, dying in an Iraqi village and in desperate need of complicated open-heart surgery unavailable in her own country. The authors reveal the extraordinary thinking and courage that saved her life and show how you can use the same approaches to transform every aspect of yours.

 

About the Authors

Judy Chartrand is a recognized thought leader in the areas of critical thinking and career development. Chartrand works as a consulting Chief Scientist with Pearson. As a psychologist, Chartrand has helped hundreds of clients increase their personal and career satisfaction. She frequently speaks at national and international conferences and has published more than 50 articles and books. Chartrand lives in Minnesota and has two grown children.

Stewart Emery is coauthor of the international bestsellers Success Built to Last and Do You Matter?: How Great Design Will Make People Love Your Company. He has a lifetime of experience as an entrepreneur, creative director, corporate culture consultant, and executive coach. He has led workshops and seminars and delivered keynotes all over the world.

Russ Hall is author of fourteen books and coauthor of numerous other books. He has also had short stories, essays, and articles published in a wide array of media and has received several awards.

Heather Ishikawa is the National Sales Director for Pearson TalentLens. Ishikawa has extensive experience in architecting corporatewide, assessment-based leadership development initiatives. Ishikawa has delivered workshops to hundreds of leaders on the topics of critical thinking, leadership, teambuilding, communication, and change management. She lives in California with her husband and two children.

John Maketa is the Director of Strategic Partnerships for Pearson TalentLens. Maketa is a dynamic leader in enterprise growth, developing bold and creative strategic alliances that catapult global performance and profit. Maketa is known throughout the learning and development industry as a major connector who is able to strategically align initiatives for parties on both sides of the table with unparalleled financial and professional success. He lives in Pennsylvania with his wife and son.

 

Have you read Now You’re Thinking?  Be sure to write a review on Amazon.  We’d love to hear what you think of the book.

New Webinar: Understand Your Thinking Style to Unlock Better Critical Thinking

Unlock the Combination to Better Thinking With My Thinking Styles™

May 23, 2012 at 3:00 PM Eastern

HCI and Pearson TalentLens have joined forces to give you an exciting development opportunity, free of charge!

We all use a variety of thinking styles in our daily lives, but we tend to favor some but rarely use others—and that hurts our ability to make good decisions. My Thinking Styles™ from Pearson TalentLens helps you find the right balance, so you can make the best choices, in life and at work.

The Seven Powerful Thinking Styles:

  1. Analytical
  2. Inquisitive
  3. Insightful
  4. Open-Minded
  5. Systematic
  6. Timely
  7. Truth Seeking

Knowing your preferred style will help you approach problems and decisions with the right mindset so you can be more successful.

Between now and May 23rd, we’re giving HCI users access to a complimentary administration of My Thinking Styles and a personalized Development Report. Then on May 23rd at 3:00 EST, Dr. Judy Chartrand will give a brief overview of the seven styles and she’ll help you interpret your results. Your report will unlock a unique combination that will help you be more successful with your decisions, relationships, projects, and every aspect of your life – so don’t miss out!

To take My Thinking Styles and receive your report, complete these steps:

1. Go to: https://tara.vitapowered.com/MTS/HCI

2. Fill out registration information: First Name, Last Name, Email, Login ID and Password

You’ll receive two emails:

* Test Registration – Information on what to do if they lose your connection
* Account Registration – Account registration information (login info and link to view your report)

3. Fill out demographics section and complete the My Thinking Styles Assessment.

4. Once you’ve completed taking the assessment go to https://tara.vitapowered.com/MTS, then enter your login information (if you don’t remember your login information check your email account for the account registration email).

5. Once logged on, select the Results menu to view your report.

Please Note:

* Please print out your report and bring it to the HCI Webcast session on May 23rd.
* My Thinking Styles takes about 10-15 minutes to complete.
* Supported browsers include: IE7> and Firefox 3>

If you have any questions, contact chad.fife@pearson.com.

Schedule

Live:

Wednesday, May 23 2012 3:00pm EDT

Recasts:

Thursday, May 24 2012 7:00pm EDT

Thursday, May 24 2012 11:00pm EDT

Friday, May 25 2012 3:00am EDT

Friday, May 25 2012 7:00am EDT

Friday, May 25 2012 11:00am EDT

Presenters

Judy Chartrand helps people develop their careers and their lives through better critical thinking. As a consulting Chief Scientist with Pearson she works extensively with corporate clients, helping them develop employee competencies and leadership skills. A recognized thought leader, she has spoken at over 50 national and international conferences and written over 40 articles and two books. She received an Early Career Award from the American Psychological Association for her work in the career development field. Judy received her Ph.D. in Psychology from the University of Minnesota.

Judy Chartrand
Consultant Chief Scientist
Pearson TalentLens

 

 

Meet the Authors of Now You’re Thinking! at ASTD #astd2012

Next week the authors of Now You’re Thinking! (an Amazon.com Bestseller) will be at the American Society for Training & Development’s International conference in Denver.

Judy Chartrand, Heather Ishikawa and John Maketa will be in Pearson TalentLens‘ booth (#1134) signing books and taking pictures with attendees.  Be sure to stop by and get a FREE copy of Now You’re Thinking!

We will also hold a drawing in the booth and 5 randomly chosen individuals will receive a 1-year license to the Critical Thinking University (TalentLens’ first online learning portal for critical thinking training).

Finally, we will be giving away a FREE copy of the 2011/2012 Trends in Executive Development Report (a $135 value) to everyone who attends Bonnie Hagemann’s session on Wednesday, May 9th from 8:00am-9:15am in room Four Seasons 2/3.

There are so many things to look forward to at ASTD 2012.  What are you most excited about?

Now You’re Thinking with Heather Ishikawa on DriveThruHR

In case you missed the last 2 BlogTalkRadio interviews by John Maketa and Heather Ishikawa (co-authors of Now You’re Thinking), then be sure to listen to DriveThruHR today (Dec 23rd) at Noon CT.  Heather Ishikawa will be chatting live with DriveThruHR hosts Bryan Wempen and William Tincup about the value of critical thinking in the workplace and her new book. 

Here’s a link to the interview:  http://www.blogtalkradio.com/drivethruhr/2011/12/23/lunch-with-heather-ishikawa-and-drivethruhr

You can also follow tweets about the interview with #dthr.

Here are the links to 2 previous radio interviews about Now You’re Thinking!

100 Ways to Honor a Veteran

Today is Veterans Day and while we should all thank our soldiers for their service every day, today is a great day to think creatively about how to give back to those who have served and protected our country.  There are millions of small ways to show gratitude towards America’s service men and women, but here are 100 ways you can honor a Veteran today:

1)  Say “thank you.”  It’s such a small, simple gesture that is completely disproportionate to the sacrifice soldiers make for us, but they really do appreciate it.

2)  When you see a soldier or veteran eating at a restaurant, discretely tell the waiter/waitress that you’d like to pick up the tab for them.

3) Ask your company to name Veterans Day an official company holiday.  A 2010 poll by SHRM found that only 21% of companies planned to observe the holiday this year.

4)  Donate to the USO.

5)  Volunteer at a local USO Chapter.

6)  Don’t forget to acknowledge the soldiers who served our country but didn’t fight in a foreign war.  For instance, though my father didn’t fight in Vietnam, I’m very proud that he served in the National Guard during that time.  He provided disaster relief support, kept peace at protests, and even guarded President Harry S. Truman’s grave when he was laid to rest.  Soldiers who do not fight in a foreign war are often given less attention, but are just as worthy of our praise and appreciation.

7)  Send a “Cheer” postcard to military families and Cheerios will donate $1 to the USO for each postcard they receive.  Learn more here.

8)  Learn about how to support military families emotionally.  When a spouse is deployed, it’s so hard to know what to say or to do help their family.  Here’s a great article with 10 Things to Know About Military Wives.

9)  Place flowers/flags on the graves of veterans.

10)  Proudly display your American flag.

11)  Help a homeless veteran through VA services.

12)  Order a pizza.  On 11/11/11 for every order placed, Papa John’s will donate $1 to the USO.

13)  Visit a local retirement home and chat with some elderly veterans who will share their stories.

14)  Volunteer at a VA Hospital.

15)  Send a care package through Operation Gratitude.

16)  Donate a stuffed animal so that Operation Gratitude can create a “Battalion Buddy” to children of deployed soldiers.

17)  Send your leftover Halloween candy to soldiers.

18)  When you see a soldier boarding your fully booked flight, offer them your window or aisle seat.

19)  Teach your children about Veterans Day and how thankful we should be for the service of our soldiers.

20)  Did you know that There are more than 1.4 million active duty military members supported by more than 3.6 million family members, and 70 percent of married active duty military members have children.   Get involved with one of these great military family support charities.

21)  If you own a business, offer a special Veteran’s Day discount.

22)  Display a yellow ribbon on your clothes, car, or around a tree.

23)  Volunteer for a service project through The Mission Continues.

24)  If you are a manager or work in HR, hire a veteran.

25)  Pledge your service through “Joining Forces.

26)  Read a book or watch a documentary about the lives of soldiers.

27)  Donate to The Mission Continues.

28)  Help deployed soldiers stay connected with their children through the power of reading.  Donate to the USO’s United Through Reading program so that soldiers can record themselves reading a book and send the video to their children.

29)  Support Operation Homefront

30)  Take a veteran to lunch.  Several restaurants offer discounts to honor American heroes.

31)  Learn about the veterans in your family.  Do you know if anyone in your family served in the military?

32)  Send a “thank you” note.  http://www.amillionthanks.org/send-letter-guidelines-get-started.php

33)  Attend a Veteran’s Day parade

34)  Attend a presentation/speech being given by a veteran.  Many retirement communities hold speaking events to honor their members who are veterans, so just call around to your local assisted living facilities to find an event.  My own grandfather will be speaking about his experiences in the Korean war and selling his book at his retirement home.  The money he raises for the book will go to wounded warriors.  He made sure his daughter set up a Facebook page for the event!  That’s right, even my 81 year-old grandfather gets the value of social media!

35)  Hug a veteran.

36)  Teachers- get children involved in the day.  Ask them to create “thank you” posters and put them up around town for veterans to see.

37)  Post a message on a social network thanking our veterans.  You never know who is reading your posts and just needed to hear “thank you.”

38)  Send the name of your Veteran family member (or friend) to Operation Gratitude and they will receive letters from strangers who want to thank them for their service.

39)  Grant a wounded warrior’s wish.

40)  Are you flying on Southwest Airlines this weekend?  If so, you should find specially marked postcards at each gate where you can write a thank you note that will be sent on your behalf to troops.

41)  Read and comment on online stories from the battlefield.  One of my friends sent me this article.  Her husband (Taylor Still) served in Iraq and experienced some truly heartbreaking moments as described in this story.  I don’t think you can truly understand what these men and women experienced until you read an article like this.

42)  Take a moment of silence to remember those who gave their lives to protect our freedom.

43)  Donate your old wireless phone so that a care package will be sent to soldiers.

44)  Save your expired coupons and send them to a military base.  Military families can still use expired coupons for up to 6 months past the coupon expiration date.

45)  Lend a sympathetic ear.  Every day, I check in on Facebook to see how one of my high school friends is doing.  She and her two daughters are living on base in Germany while her husband is deployed.  I’ve learned so much about the emotional roller-coaster she lives out every day.    She knows that no Facebook comment will bring her as much comfort as her husband’s arms, but she is so appreciative any time someone just says they’re thinking about her and her family.  I’ve also learned how to be more sensitive for her.  When I travel for work, I am sometimes inclined to post something about missing my husband.  It never occurred to me until recently how much that can upset a military spouse who hasn’t seen his/her partner in months.

46)  Mow a veteran’s lawn (or shovel their snow/rake their leaves this time of year).

47)  Donate your car to Cars For Troops.

48)  Wear a “Hero Bracelet

49)  Send your old Beanie Babies to soldiers.  They use them to connect with local children and build relationships/trust within villages.

50)  Give recognition to a Veteran at your Work.  

51)  Don’t forget about the four-legged veterans.  Support the Vetdogs program with a donation or by spreading the word about their program.

52)  Drive a veteran to their doctor appointments.

53)  Connect with groups like the Wounded Warrior project on Facebook and Twitter to show your support year-round.

54)  Volunteer for the Wounded Warrior Project.

55)  Attend an Operation Welcome Home event.

56)  Email a soldier to say thanks!

57)  Ask a military family or veteran what they need.

58)  Surprise a military family/veteran with a home cooked meal.

59)  Send International Phone Cards overseas for current soldiers.

60)  Foster a soldier’s pet while they are deployed.

61)  Buy a product that supports soldiers.  For example, ONEHOPE Wines donates 50% of the profit from each bottle sold to a charity.  Their “Supporting Our Troops California Zinfandel” is pretty tasty too.

62)  Stop by your local war memorial and say a silent thank you to those who died while serving the country.

63)  Support the VFW.

64)  Wear red, white and blue today.

65)  Bring a bag of groceries to a veterans home.

66)  Bake some sugar free cookies and take them to the local VA retirement homes in your area.

67)  Visit a VA retirement home and offer to scan and print larger pictures of their family members so they are easier to see.

68)  Do one good deed today in honor of those who gave their life for the country.

69)  Help modify homes for wounded veterans that need ramps, handrails, etc.

70)  Post a YouTube video about why you’re thankful for our veterans (and post the link in the comment section here).

71)  Leave a comment here telling the story of your favorite veteran.  Who is he/she?  Where did he/she serve?  What makes you proud of their service?

72)  Volunteer or donate to Operation Homefront.

73)  When you see a soldier, just give them a smile, wink, thumbs up or a nod to let them know you appreciate them.  They get it.

74)  Teach your children the history of Veterans Day.

75)  Help more veterans take the Honor Flight.

76)  If you’re in an airport when Honor Flight members are boarding or arriving from a plane, stop and cheer for them.  I was lucky enough to be in BWI airport when an Honor Flight arrived, and stood and cheered with every single person in the terminal for about 10 minutes until each veteran had passed us by.  There was not a dry eye in the place, and the veterans cheeks probably hurt from smiling so big!  It was truly an honor just to witness the moment.

77)  Offer to babysit for a military spouse.  They need a night off too.

78)  Hug a military child.  They struggle with loneliness and sadness every day their parent is deployed.

79)  If you’re crafty, offer to help a veteran scrapbook their pictures, letters, etc so they can share it with others.

80)  Have a sign in front of your business?  Replace your usual marketing message with “Thank you veterans!”

81)  Change your Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc profile picture to something patriotic (a yellow ribbon, an American flag, or a picture of your beloved veteran).

82)  Each time you thank a soldier, thank their family too.  They all sacrifice so much for our freedom.

83)  Buy a veteran a military-themed gift.

84)  Send popcorn to the troops.

85)  If allowed, bring your well-behaved pet to a VA retirement home to bring smiles to the faces of the residents.

86)  Walk a veteran’s dog (or scoop the kitty litter).

87)  Donate your unused Frequent Flyer miles to a veteran.

88)  Invite a veteran to your Thanksgiving dinner.

89)  Help a service member connect with his/her family through videoconferencing facilities.

90)  Send books to soldiers.

91)  Say the Pledge of Allegiance today.

92)  Ask you child’s teacher if they can bring a Veteran to school with them for a day.

93)  Read a Veteran’s bio.

94)  Learn about PTSD so you can be sensitive to the issues soldiers around you might be facing.

95)  Did you recently move?  Save your bubble wrap, extra boxes, and tape and help build care packages with those supplies.

96)  Adopt a military family for the holidays.  Whether through emotional or financial support, they will appreciate the extra care during these emotional times.

97)  Write a blog post about how you thanked a veteran today

98)  Support veteran-based legislation.

99)  Send this list to a friend who needs help thinking of ways to thank Veterans.

100)  Remember our veterans all year long- not just on Veterans Day!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Re-thinking the “Lost Cause” Student

How does a student (or adult) become considered a “lost cause?”  Does a person become a “lost cause” because of their unacceptable behavior or because those who could help lack the energy/resources to do so?  Perhaps a better question is “is there really such a thing as a ‘lost cause’?”  Judge Jimmie Edwards of St. Louis, MO doesn’t think so.

The story of Judge Jimmie Edwards was featured in both the October 10th and November 7th issue of People Magazine and made me re-think the issue of the “lost cause” student.  Jimmie Edwards has held a circuit court judge role since 1992, and has seen countless men and women come through the court system, be sentenced, released, and return to a life of crime.  In 2007, he moved to the juvenile court division in hopes of stopping the cycle of crime while children are still impressionable.

In 2009 took his vision a step further by opening the Innovative Concept Academy.  This alternative school is seen as a last resort for many young teens who appear in Judge Edwards’ court room ready to be sentenced.  Students who have been kicked out of multiple school districts and are likely to continue a life of crime can find new hope at the Innovative Concept Academy.

However, this “last chance” opportunity is no walk in the park.  Judge Edwards’ philosophy is that these students need structure.  They wear uniforms, have mandatory classes, and are expected to participate in additional school activities.  In fact, he says one important part of making the Innovative Concept Academy successful is keeping the students so busy that they don’t have time to get in trouble.  In addition, they are exposed to more than just basic Math, English, and History classes.  They also learn about golf, fashion, chess (which strengthens critical thinking skills), playing the piano, and even ballroom dancing.  As Judge Edwards said in People Magazine, you can’t dream about something you don’t know exists.

These children who have been expelled from other schools for gang related activities, fighting, and assault are now improving their grades, refusing to quit learning, and even graduating.  They are learning the importance of speaking with proper grammar, communicating with confidence, and dressing professionally.

Though the program has only been active for 2 years, it is still too early to gauge the long term effect these life lessons will have.  However, of the 700 students who have attended Innovation Concept Academy so far, only 4 have returned to jail.  That is a remarkable statistic given the fact that these children were once deemed a “lost cause.”

Judge Jimmie Edwards thought differently.  He saw a cycle and wanted to break it.  He took the expelled and helped them learn to engage.  Where others saw only failure, Judge Edwards saw opportunity.  Judge Jimmie Edwards taught these students (once seen as a menace to society) to STOP and THINK.

Kudos to Judge Jimmie Edwards and the staff of Innovative Concept Academy for re-thinking the concept of the “lost cause” and changing the life story for these children.

How can you make a difference today?

Photo credit to Patrick T. Fallon of the Wall Street Journal

Save Your Waistline- Send Your Extra Halloween Candy to the Troops

Are you still crashing from last night’s sugar rush?  If you’re like most Americans, you either have a bowl full of leftover candy from trick-or-treaters that never arrived or you’ve sorted through your child’s bag of treats and pulled out some no-no candy (i.e. candy with nuts for children with allergies).

So, what do you plan to do with that candy?  Eat it and loathe the extra hours you’ll have to put in at the gym?  Eat it and start saving money for the new clothes you’ll have to buy next month in a larger size?  Take it to work and pawn it off on your coworkers?

Last night I tweeted about these questions and received some great responses.  A few of my Twitter friends were proactively trying to give their candy away by reverse trick-or-treating (going door to door and giving away their candy).  However, two of my Twitter friends pointed me to some really great post-Halloween candy projects.

Fist, Homefront Hugs tweeted that I could send my extra candy to them and it would be included in a care package to the troops.  Actually, they have a whole list of items they need and all items can be shipped to:

Homefront Hugs USA

1850 Brookfield Drive

Ann Arbor, MI 48103

Next, my Twitter friend (and US Army veteran) @markvanbaale alerted me to a Halloween Candy Buy Back program operated by local dentists who then send the candy to the troops via Operation Gratitude.  At the Halloween Buy Back site you can search for local dentists who are participating in the program.

What a great way to give back in a small way that also reduces candy waste in your house (and/or your waistline).

Kudos to Homefront Hugs and the Halloween Candy Buy Back program for thinking differently about wasted candy!  Now You’re Thinking!

What do you plan to do with your extra candy today?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Book Signing Event Held at Doylestown Bookshop- Sells Out of Now You’re Thinking!

We’d like to thank Doylestown Bookshop in Doylestown, PA for hosting John Maketa’s book signing of Now You’re Thinking!  The crowd was quite excited to hear John’s experiences while writing this book and learning about how a Marine battalion saved the life of Amenah al-Bayati through effective critical thinking.

John signed books, chatted with fans, took a few pictures, and within 2 hours the bookstore sold out of Now You’re Thinking! books!

Thank you Doylestown, PA for making this book signing event such a success.

If you’d like to book one (or all) of the authors for a book signing at your store or to speak at an event, please email breanne@nowurthinking.com.  Our authors are located in Philadelphia, PA, Minneapolis, MN, and San Francisco, CA but also travel frequently.

Ordinary People, Extraordinary Decisions (The Story of the Oregon Trail Game)

Months ago Heather Ishikawa, a co-author “Now You’re Thinking!” said something that really stuck with me:  “If you can change the way you think, you can change the world.”

The statement still gives me goosebumps.

Since then I have read hundreds of stories about ordinary people who challenge the standard way of thinking, break down barriers, try something new, and make the world a better place.  It’s time to honor those individuals.

This is an example of an ordinary person who made an extraordinary decision that changed the world.

Our first story is about Don Rawitsch, the creator of the Oregon Trail computer and video game.  Don was a student teacher in 1971 struggling to teach his students in a low-income area of Minneapolis about the importance of the Oregon Trail.  He had dressed up as historical figures to tell the students about the adventure, but felt he needed to take the lesson a step further.  On the floor of his apartment, he created a board game that the students could play to understand the day-to-day challenges of the journey.

When Don’s roommates (Paul Dillenberger and Bill Heinemann) came home, they were impressed but thought it could be even better.  They had each only taken a few computer programming courses, but thought it would be a great computer game.  In a matter of days, the first iteration of the Oregon Trail was created and was a huge success.  Despite it’s clunky nature (there wasn’t even a computer monitor back then) and single-player functionality, students lined up to play and learn about the historic event.

As a child of the 80′s myself, I clearly remember the excitement of “computer day” when we got to play Oregon Trail for an hour.  I remember learning to strategize and plan by buying supplies at the store, deciding how long to travel vs. rest, when to hunt (and how much), and whether to caulk my wagon or ford the river.  I remember members of my party dying of measles, dysentery, and exhaustion.  The message was brought home when that individual’s name was scrawled on a tombstone along the trail.  Not only did I learn what an amazing feat that travel was, but I would argue that the Oregon Trail video game was the first game that helped me build decision making skills.

And it all started with a student teacher trying to teach a group of poverty stricken students about an amazing historic event. 

Don Rawitsch was an ordinary person who thought differently, and changed the world.  He didn’t stick to the lesson plan.  He didn’t use the notes and activities handed down by teachers before him.  He didn’t limit himself by the lack of resources and opportunities available to his students.  He challenged the status quo.

He changed the world with the most widely distributed educational game of all time.  Between 1974 and 2011, 65 Million copies have been sold.  This week, the Oregon Trail became available for play on Facebook.

“If you can change the way you think, you can change the world.”  It’s that simple.

Do you remember playing the Oregon Trail video game?

To read the full story of how the Oregon Trail video game was invented, click here.

Image Source

Get Adobe Flash playerPlugin by wpburn.com wordpress themes

Switch to our mobile site