Bill Barry, a Canadian, was perturbed when his 12-year-old daughter told him that what she learnt at school was not relevant to her future.
He set out to show her how her school learning related to the real world. He did this by developing a game that was engaging, challenging and, most importantly, fun!
This became the first game in The Real Game Series, a paper based career/life skills program. In Australia, there are now 5 games in the Series.
All five games have been piloted and 'Australianised' under the coordination of the Commonwealth Department of Education, Science and Training.
The overarching purpose of The Real Game Series is to demonstrate to students the real life relevance of their school experience.
The goal of each game is to help students gain age appropriate competencies in the broad areas of:
The games are delivered through a 'rich task' approach in which students develop communities, work collaboratively in groups, take on adult roles, and make adult decisions in a supportive and non threatening environment.
Many schools, already using games from The Real Game Series, incorporate them as assessable units within and across key learning areas such as SOSE, English and HPE. Other schools use the games as standalone programs.
Materials for the games come in the form of a facilitator's kit. The kit includes a facilitator's guide, worksheet and handout masters, posters, and other materials required to play the game. Order forms for The Real Game Series kits can be downloaded from the national website at http://www.realgame.gov.au. The international website for The Real Game series is at www.realgame.com.
It is strongly recommended that staff facilitating these games attend a training session.
The Play Real Game is divided into ten sessions. In this game students take on adult roles during which they learn about work/life skills and adult decision-making. Students use their knowledge to create a town and identify and locate the services and businesses needed. Based on their 'role ', students find work in their own neighbourhood and learn about hiring workers.
Students consider the benefits of a new business coming to their town. They prepare and rehearse a presentation about their town for a potential new business owner. The game ends with the presentation.
This game is divided into eleven themed sessions. During the game, students are taken on a simulated journey in which they assume adult roles.
In their adult roles, students make lifestyle decisions by choosing accommodation, vehicles and leisure items. The students create a town and explore urban, suburban and rural settings. They then work together in groups to form small companies. As part of their company role, the students research foreign countries and prepare and present an advertising campaign to promote the cultures they have researched. During the last session, students report on their journey to an audience of parents, invited guests and school staff.
The Real Game is presented in five units. During the first three units, the students develop an understanding of the basic concepts and terminology of the game and of the world of work. They are given an occupational role and make lifestyle decisions (e.g. accommodation, transport, and leisure) within the constraints of their income. In the process they learn some of the realities of the adult world. Once they have established a realistic budget, the students make decisions about and plan for a holiday.
During Unit 4, students explore their attitudes and preconceptions about gender stereotypes, evaluate occupations based on their own interests, and begin to learn about some of the hard realities of the workplace, when some of them lose their jobs. The students examine the concept of transition and use their transferable skills to gain new employment.
In Unit 5, students, no longer in role, create a graphic representation of their lives and use this to think about their future and to develop their dream job profile. A link between their learning during the game and the real world is made through guest speakers who present their experiences in the world of work.
Professional development resources for The Real Game Master Trainers
Master trainers who have had previous training in the use of The Real Game plus teaching experience with it are encouraged to use the following resources to inservice other teachers in their school and/or district in the Game. Resources are available for a one day workshop divided into two sessions - AM and PM. AM covers the background to The Real Game and its training resources while PM provides an overview of The Real Game itself, ideally integrated with the workshop participants playing their way through the core activities/units of the Game:
Research has clearly shown that both teachers and students benefit more from The Real Game when the teacher/facilitator has had training in its use. Master trainers are encouraged to take these resources and adapt them to suit their local needs.
The Be Real Game is divided into three units. In Unit 1, Brave new world of work, students are given an adult role, develop a resume, and apply for a job. In groups, they deal with a dilemma that arises from their job and also use their skills to address an emergency in their community.
In Unit 2, Agents of change, the students, through no fault of their own, lose their jobs. This experience provides an opportunity for them to examine the issue of job loss and to develop transition plans to help them gain new employment. Students update their resumes and apply for their second job.
In Unit 3, Exploring the future, students become themselves again and use the knowledge and skills gained in the previous units to develop a profile of themselves, write their own resume, and create their student learning plan.
This game provides students with the skills and knowledge they need to develop career and learning plans and could be used as preparation for Senior Education and Training Plans.
The Get Real Game is made up of 13 sessions. During the first few sessions, students are introduced to the concept of transition, a range of work clusters, and career gateways. Students choose a work role they will role-play throughout the game.
Through several Spin Game rounds, students explore issues related to completing secondary schooling, and to their transition from school and their progress in the first five years after leaving school. During this process, students learn about career planning and networking.
Students identify an interview goal and prepare for an interview. Following the interview, students use the learning they have acquired during the game to develop their own transition plans.