Sun, Apr 22, 2012 - Page 3 News List

Fourth-graders grill the Pentagon about Taiwan

‘WORLD PEACE GAME’:Students were invited to hold a mock press conference after playing a two-month game in which they had to solve the world’s problems

Staff Writer, with CNA, Washington

The Pentagon press secretary was recently asked if the US was ready to protect Taiwan at all costs against China, not by reporters, but by a class of US fourth--graders, according to a Washington Post report on Friday.

The question, among several others, was posed to George Little in a mock press conference by students visiting from Agnor-Hurt Elementary School in Charlottesville, Virginia.

The class was invited to meet US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta last month, after Pentagon officials learned about the “World Peace Game” that a teacher, John Hunter, devised for his students, the report said.

In the game, which was played over eight weeks, four made-up countries faced real-world problems, such as cyberattacks, ethnic tensions and climate change, and students had to solve them through either wars, negotiations or other means. Students played the game in the role of government officials, ethnic leaders and arms dealers, according to the report, which added that students even read Sun Tzu’s (孫子) The Art of War (孫子兵法).

“They are learning to decrease suffering in the world, and increase compassion,” Hunter said.

Talking about the visit to the Pentagon, which included a 30-minute meeting with Panetta, Hunter said: “They didn’t invite us to talk about war. They wanted to seriously have a discussion about peace and how we do that.”

Meanwhile, Beth Flores, director of the Leadership and Organizational Development Office of the undersecretary of defense for policy, told the Washington Post that “the impact was really profound on us here at the Pentagon.”

According to Flores, Pentagon officials learned “the value of stepping back from the constant rush of the inbox to think with a fresh perspective about world problems.”

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