June Academy: Create Your Own Country

For the second week of June Academy, my colleague Mary Fierabend and I co-taught a course called Create Your Own Country. Mostly working in pairs, students imagined and created their own countries, emphasizing one or more themes:

  • maps
  • political structure/government
  • geography/culture

Our original plans turned to be far too ambitious, including such interesting activities as drawing mental maps and exploring GeoGuessr. When we realized that this scope was allowing students far too little time for their own work, we switched gears so that about 90% of class time was allotted to their individual projects.

As a result, each pair of students ended up with about 12 hours in which to work. Many did indeed put in 12 hours of work, with very impressive results. Some put in much less time, with (unsurprisingly) less impressive results. A few put in the bare minimum in order to get credit for taking the course. Sigh. In contrast, one pair even wrote a national anthem and a three-page constitution!

Some pairs located their countries as an overlay on already-inhabited areas, such as southern Spain or the fertile crescent. Some picked uninhabited stretches of ocean. One pair even picked Mars.

Here are a couple more samples from students’ posters:

Finally, a few remarks about Asphodel, pictured above in the second poster. This country, designed by three junior girls, featured a wizarding school (subtly named Strawgoh), along with some firm views on government and some beautiful artwork:

But here is where I say “it isn’t a competition” (though some of my students claim that everything is a competition).

Categories: Teaching & Learning, Weston