Last Friday, Parker and I began a new project: a six-week-long children’s program that is part homework help, part games workshop. Each class consists of forty five minutes of tutoring and forty five minutes of game play and discussion. Our first game of the workshop is Hex.
When introducing Hex to my students, I usually define bridges and explain why they are useful. This time, however, Parker and I only explained the rules and left bridges and ladders and such for the students’ own discovery. I don’t think that much was discovered during the first class, but the students certainly enjoyed the game and expressed a desire to play it again. After the first couple of games of next class, I think that we will come together to discuss discoveries made and strategies used. In this way, without too many prompts from Parker and myself, I hope that the students learn the basic strategies of Hex. I also hope that they come to appreciate the depth of this game and the beauty of its simplicity. This, though it ended up being the case with my eighth grade Math students last year, is probably a lot to ask of nine year olds. Instead I will hope that they develop some skills (reading ahead, visualization) while studying this game, and that they have fun.
After a few weeks of Hex, Parker and I will introduce Nick Bentley’s game, Catchup. I think that Catchup is a good choice for us because Parker and I have played this game more than a hundred times. It is therefore a game that we would be comfortable teaching and discussing.
Here’s to Hex and homework! Wish us luck.