Østerskov Efterskole - Danish public high school teaching all subjects using LARP

by Hawke Robinson published 2012/10/21 13:30:00 GMT-7, last modified 2022-11-12T09:26:01-07:00
Thanks to feedback from @Jmstar on Twitter, he pointed out a public school in Denmark teaching all subjects for what in the US we would consider sort of upper high school, or post high school between high school and college, teaching in depth educational subjects entirely using LARP techniques.

Definitely interesting, Danish public school teaching in depth standard educational courses through LARP: http://osterskov.dk/?page_id=213 (English page).

Most of the site is in Dutch, but here is information, with examples, from their English page:

Boarding school based on role playing

A presentation of Østerskov Efterskole in english.

ØE is an innovative school under the Danish system for “free” schools. We conform to the same standards regarding to the subjects taught and final exams as municipality schools, but apply different teaching methods. The teaching is primarily based on role playing and related activities. This text will describe the current status of the school at a moment where we are only two weeks into our first year of teaching.

ØE was founded by Mads Lunau and Malik Hyltoft – veterans from the Danish role playing scene and designers of educational as well as entertainment games since the late 1980’s.

ØE is located in Hobro, a small town (pop.: 10.000) in northern Jutland, Denmark.

For the school year 2009, ØE houses 96 students – 88 boys and 8 girls, all between 14 and 17 of age. They stay from mid August to late June.

Teaching covers the 9th and 10th year of education, and the subjects are: Danish, English, German, Mathematics, Science (physics and chemistry), Biology, Geography, History, Social science, Religion and Physical education. Pupils can choose between  extra courses built on their interests in roleplaying and the schools workshops.
A school week covers 30 lessons and 4 hours of processing in the afternoon.

We do not teach according to a fixed schedule but mix and combine subjects according to inspiration and relevant themes.

In theory, the purpose of the school is, to include all subjects in role playing related activities, where the flow of the game induces the pupil to strive for learning. After the school day, in stead of ordinary home work, the pupil works with his/her port folio through which the teacher may gain an insight in the learning process and assist the pupil in the processing of the information. The pupil also maintains a blog, as an external presentation of the learning project to other pupils and the family at home.

The following are examples from the first years teaching:

1st narrative structure was Godsplay. On the first day of school, the students were divided into different pantheons and were told, that they would compete to name the different parts of the school for the rest of the week.

In the first day they sought information on the pantheon and chose god-characters for each of them, composing a text in Danish describing their character.
On following days, they worked with geometrical structures on the premise that all gods want their followers to build as big and impressing as possible. They were asked to chose a position on the Ten Commandments and compare their type of religion with monotheistic Christianity. They were given supplementary information in simple German texts. Finally a modern scientific attack on the old religions prompted the gods to try and explain creation on their own terms (after being introduced to the scientific view).
During the whole process positive actions (academic, social, cleanly, etc) were rewarded with follower tokens and used in “elections” each night. The rights to name rooms were then decided through different election systems.

In the second structure, Ocean Liner, the pupils are running an ocean liner. In the preparation they are grouped in work related groups, purser, bridge, machine, entertainment …
Preparations cover fact finding about liners and deciding the layout and contents of character sheets. Finally the school is turned into a “liner” so it is possible to role play convincingly in the building.
When full fledged teaching commences, the teams will be redistributed to excuse that all groups do comparable activities.
The captain enters the room on the first morning and scolds everybody for a failure ridden cruise last and expects from them to be ready for a blast of a cruise in one week. In this week, the crew must choose ports of call, design sight seeing, order fuel and supplies according to travel distances, calculate expected weather, construct an on board news service (they chose media), devise a security system and prepare entertainment. In the end of the week, they all write their own passenger roles.
The second week is the actual cruise. Much of the time is taken up by presentations of the things made in the first week, but there will also be news to publish and events arranged by the teachers which open for new activities. Boat refugees are passed on the open sea (big screen projection in the dining hall). A German speaking captain of another vessel asks for assistance over the radio in the middle of the night.
On top of all the activities the students are free to add their own plot points as in a Nordic style larp.

See pictures from the different theme weeks this school year on this website.

Schematically teaching is grouped into
Narrative structures (typically 1 week)
Tests and obligatory projects (typically one week)
Preparations for exams

If this has caught your interest,  you are welcome to ask for elaboration on mail: kontor@osterskov.dk or mads@osterskov.dk. You can also arrange a visit either on mail or telephone: +45 7734 2990 / +45 2398 9852. The exact address is: Kirketoften 4, 9500 Hobro, Denmark.


UPDATE: HBO's VICE Media has released an article about this school, that includes part of one of the two interviews of Hawke Robinson here: http://www.vice.com/read/at-this-danish-school-larping-is-the-future-of-education-482

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