When we walk into our first class, our goal is to immediately create an atmosphere of openness and exploration. Just Ideas' peculiar form of embodied learning never fails to achieve the goal. Inspired by Augusto Boal's Theater of the Oppressed approach and spear-headed by Morgaine Gooding-Silverwood, we've developed philosophically relevant games that confound and delight. Whether we begin with the Opposite Game, Name Gumbo, or some other form of disruption, our students always engage. As David Simpson, one of our alumns loves to tell new teachers: "I couldn't believe that the professor was serious when she told us that we were all going to do this very silly thing. But she was, and we all joined her, and it changed everything."
Our games themselves have philosophical morals, which open the door to serious conversations about the headiest questions posed by our assigned readings. The Opposite Game helps us get our heads around moral relativism, while Name Gumbo offers lessons in the unreliability of perceptions. The result is an openness to new literature and difficult ideas. In the words of one student, the games provoked him to think differently about himself and think more seriously about the material, which in the end gave him "a renewed sense of self-agency." Our embodied learning is a central part of our program's success.