The Athens Melos roleplay that the 9th grade history classes participate in, is geared to put kids in a real situation where peace, is not easy. It is easy for schools to discuss peaceful solutions in theory. But in practice, these solutions can be tricky. In our roleplay we introduced the workable peace framework. Where the first step was to control the violence, before entering negotiations. I will touch on why that is interesting later. The WPF also shows the negative side, where if the violence is not controlled, war will be entered. But back to the first step, it is essential that the violence is controlled prior to any negotiations. How many countries are ravaged by war? Just because their leaders can not come to a consensus on a peace treaty. If we consider war a necessity for peace, negotiations will be obstructed and countries involved will suffer. Another part of the WPF is a pie chart illustrating the main "sources of conflict" in war. However some of these conflicts, are opportunities for peace. For example although in the simulation, the Athenians and the Melians hail from different ancestors, and employ different governing systems, both sides identified with the greater greek identity. During negotiations, my side, the Melians used this to help create a sense of unity, and empathy. That by attacking us, the Athenians would be doing harm to themselves as well.
A crucial part to the role play's success is identities eachs student took on. In the packets each student received a list of demands they needed to make peace. Just like a real world negotiation, each person has their own needs. This can make it especially challenging to come to a conclusion on a deal. My team, acknowledged our differences and collaborated on one main list of necessities. We wanted to have our demands together as a group prior to sharing them with an opposing force. The simulation creates frustration because everyone is not focused on making peace. Athens doesn't mind going to war. This puts students in a real world situation, where peace isn't always the primary goal.
Overall the simulation proved to be a great experience. It worked especially well with our small class which made it easy for everyone to participate. I was extremely happy with Melos's performance as an underdog. Negotiating without the upper hand required a lot of ingenuity. We couldn't simply flex our muscles to have our demands met, we needed to come up with argument strategies. A lot of times these strategies would fail, leaving us frustrated. But during negotiations we need just need to stay level headed, and move to the next point. As a team, we often found ourselves trying to unravel the Athens delegates. Sometimes they wouldn't all be on the same page, which would let us find different deals. My final point would be that this simulation is all about teamwork. It cannot be done endless everyone participates, and everyone is on the same page. Even if they are not, it needs to be discussed prior to being on the floor. Sometimes a deal would be offered that the majority in the group felt was satisfactory, but one person would say they felt strongly we could get more. So we tightened our boots and got back in there!