There are many ways to teach history, but the best and most effective way has nothing to do with the classroom. In any case, a couple of months ago, it was announced that (Nigerian) History would be dropped from the Nigerian secondary school syllabus for reason of inadequate enrollment. Many of us protested online and offline, and that was the end of it. We have come to reconcile ourselves as a nation that no longer cares enough to celebrate, document, and teach its past in order to prepare citizens for the future.
I came across this game a couple of months ago, during its invention, while working on The Giants of History book by Lateef Ibirogba. It was invented by Yemi Adesanya to teach history in a fun and interactive way. Called The Game of Giants, young citizens from the age of 6 to any age can challenge each other with knowledge of famous (and obscure) giants of history. On one side of each card in the pack is a picture of a famous person in history (living or dead), while on the other is a short blurb of his/her achievement. The rules of the game says that each player scores points by correctly guessing, without having looked at the back, what the famous person is known for.
As a way to generate interest in the past and to introduce young people to a past generation, the game succeeds where textbooks might not. Being a game, it requires a time of leisure when the brain is most at east without any pressures of curriculum, and with maximum dopamin secretion. I have played it, many times with students (and won, if I might add), and what I’ve noticed is that the aim of the game’s invention is easily realized: students strive to remember the faces as well as what the person profiled is famous for. Over time, and over many losses and trials, they begin to remember. Those interested in learning more about the characters will – at other leisure times – go ahead and read some more. It is a good thing.
The best part of it, for me, is that the range of the characters in the game is wide and deep, from Aristotle to Soyinka, from Babatunde Jose to Marie Curie, and from Anthony Enahoro to Gregor Mendel. Gradually, young ones are introduced to history in a fun and non-threatening manner. (More about it here). According to the inventor, the aim is to make the game a household item not just for kids and youths, but for adults as well as a way to learn about the past while also having clean fun. This makes sense to me.