BY TOM SOMACH
Students and professors at Harvard Law School in Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA, are hosting an academic conference today which examines the educational possibilities of using poker as a teaching tool.
Harvard’s Global Poker Strategic Thinking Society (GPSTS) organized the conference, which is part of a continuing series at Harvard Law School that examines educational and academic aspects of poker.
The conference is officially titled “Innovative Thinking:The Educational Value of Poker,” and will run today from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the Austin East lecture room of Harvard Law School’s Austin Hall, in Cambridge.
Charles Nesson, a Harvard Law School professor and one of the founders of the GPSTS, said, “This conference underscores that poker is more than just a fun game. It is one of the best tools we have to teach negotiation, risk assessment, strategic thinking and other essential life skills.
“It is also a quintessentially American game that draws on the best traditions in our culture, mixing individualism and sociability, and placing a premium on smarts,” Nesson continued. “Poker has real educational possibilities, which I look forward to examining in detail at the conference.”
Andrew Woods, a Harvard Law School student and executive director of the GPSTS, said, “We are dedicated to three basic goals at GPSTS: forming local chapters at colleges and universities, presenting academic conferences that highlight the strategic thinking and policy implications inherent in poker, and exploring ways to use poker as a bona fide educational tool to teach life skills.”
The conference lecture topics include “Fun and Cool: How Educators Can Reach Students Through Poker,” which is to be given by professional poker player and TV poker commentator Mike Sexton; “The History of Poker: How U.S. Luminaries Have Anted Up Throughout History and Why Our Students Should Too,” which is to be given by Jim McManus; and “Poker is Good for You: The Ability of Poker to Teach Life Skills,” which is to be given by Dr. Alan Schoonmaker.
According to the GPSTS, it views poker as “an exceptional game of skill that can be used as a powerful teaching tool at all levels of academia and in secondary education. We use poker to teach strategic thinking, geopolitical analysis, risk assessment and money management. We see poker as a metaphor for skills of life, business, politics and international relations. Our goal is to create an open online curriculum centered on poker that will draw the brightest minds together, both from within and outside of the conventional university setting, to promote open education and Internet democracy.”
(E-mail Tom Somach at [email protected])