The Role Play as Method: Teaching Gender and Sexuality First Fridays GSS Postgraduate Workshop with Joanna Cruickshank was held on 7 June 2019. 


‘Reacting to the Past’ is a teaching method which introduces students to complex texts and concepts through immersive role-playing games which simulate particular historical events or debates. The method was developed over two decades ago in response to a range of concerns about the ineffectiveness of conventional lecturing, student unwillingness or inability to read complex historical texts and a belief in the unharnessed power of games and play in adult education. You can read more about the Reacting method and consortium here​ There is now a body of research that shows the Reacting method is effective in improving student engagement and comprehension. It is also a lot of fun. 

In recent years I have been developing my understanding of this method, participating in games and workshops and now running a 4-week game in one of my own units, both on campus and online. In this workshop, I want to provide a brief introduction to the Reacting method, report my own experience of using it in a unit focused on the history of sex and gender and open up discussion on the challenges and opportunities of this method for teaching about gender and sexuality. 


About the Speaker 

I’m Senior Lecturer in History at Deakin and have been employed here since 2009. I have published primarily on the history of Christianity in eighteenth-century Britain and nineteenth-century Australia, focusing particularly on questions of race and gender. My research is driven by a desire to understand the motivations and consequences of do-gooding. I have applied for seven (seven!) ARC grants, two of which have been successful. I’m currently a Chief Investigator on a Discovery Indigenous project called ‘Indigenous Leaders: Lawful Relations from Encounter to Treaty’. My most recent book, co-authored with Patricia Grimshaw, is called White Women, Aboriginal Missions and Australian Settler Governments: Maternal Contradictions and is out with Brill Publishing at the end of May 2019.

Apart from conventional academic outputs, I’m really interested in finding ways to tell new historical stories that help Australians see the past differently and thus imagine different futures. I write occasional articles for ABC Religion & Ethics and among other programs have been interviewed on the MinefieldSoul Search and a number of local ABC stations. I also once had a blink-and-you’ll-miss-me cameo on The Project. My interest in story-telling and the power of imagination has also led me to experiment with different pedagogies in the classroom, including the Reacting to the Past method of historical simulation. 

For more information about the ‘First Fridays’ Deakin Gender and Sexuality Studies HDR Masterclass and Seminar series



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