Proctor plays games with students

by Aaron Daniels

Instead of the traditional lecture method, Nicolas Proctor, associate professor of history, has taken on a different approach.

Freshman Andrea Seehusen is taking Humanities 101, the Western Tradition, with Proctor. She believes his class is intellectually demanding as well as laid back and easygoing.

“His style of teaching involves a lot more discussion from the class, not him just lecturing us,” Seehusen said. “It’s a nice break from just reading books and writing papers all the time. Instead he uses other ways of teaching.”

Proctor’s teaching style incorporates educational games.

In Humanities 101 specifically, a role-playing game called Threshold of Democracy is utilized. For a few weeks of the term students take on roles from ancient Athens. Throughout that time, students work toward the trial of Socrates.

Proctor finds using educational tools such as this game are an effective way to get students involved within the class.

“The barrier that we find in class is that students are afraid to question the minds of other students gets broken down,” Proctor said. “By taking on these roles from classical Athens, instead of just questioning another students opinion they would be asking questions through their particular roles.”

Seehusen agrees the class became more open and willing to express opinions as the semester progressed.

“Since everyone eventually has to get up and speak, it allowed for everyone to get to know one another in class,” Seehusen said. “When we started the Threshold of Democracy, the guidelines weren’t completely defined. This made a lot of us go in to talk to him about the game so we also got to learn a lot more about him.”

Proctor emphasized that the games his classes play are educational. He said they help students apply what they learn in their reading material.

“The readings that were required from the game made it so the students had to apply the knowledge that was previously abstract and make it real,” Proctor said.

Since the class is broken down into groups, there a lot of discussions going on simultaneously. This allows the class to almost become student-run while Proctor acts as the mediator.

However, he still takes a hands-on role in his classes.

“It takes 100 percent from both the students and I to play the game because other students will be challenging your ideas,” Proctor said. “Following along with several different groups in one class makes it more mentally demanding for me then it does to just give lectures and run the class.”