Marc Schubert is an educational assistant at Delton Elementary School in inner-city Edmonton, Alberta, where he works with students from a variety of experiences. He’s also an avid player of Dungeons & Dragons, the popular dice-based tabletop fantasy role-playing game.
“A lot of the kids who are at this school have difficult challenges in their life, and sometimes the best way to get through those things is to pretend you’re someone else, and express the frustrations or the angers you may have,” said Schubert in an interview with local paper The Star.
With that in mind, Schubert and Jon Robinson, a first grade teacher from the school, teamed up to host a Dungeons & Dragons game for students grades 4-6 after school. Holding their first sessions in April, each adult took on a group of five students to teach the game. It’s not difficult, but it is multi-layered and requires organization and concentration. Schubert credits the game with teaching teamwork, storytelling, problem-solving, and collaboration, as well as reading and simple math.
“There is literacy and numeracy just automatically wrapped into it, and the kids don’t even notice it,” he said.
Schubert and Robinson worked with the kids to decide what types of stories they wanted to build, designing custom settings to engage them.
Though there is only a little more than a month left of the school year, Schubert doesn’t want the lessons to end in June.
“I’ve always felt that’s one of the downfalls of certain groups—where you get to do all this fun stuff, but when that program ends, there’s no way to carry it on,” he said. “So I’m hoping this will basically provide a way for kids to carry on playing and building friendships and creating stories together.”
“This” meaning the fundraiser he’s launched to buy Dungeons & Dragons kits for as many of the kids as possible to take home. Each kit will include handbooks, guides, dice, and a few extras.