12th Grade: The High School Insurgency Battle


My thanks to all who helped make our activity last Thursday possible, and my congratulations to the students who played an excellent game.  From all accounts, it appears that our senior insurgency was victorious.  The seniors can feel especially proud of this, as we intentionally made the rules harder for the seniors this year than it had been for the past two senior classes.  Their victory was well earned.  I am also glad to report that

In our planning phase I wanted to stress to the students that. . .

  • Wars are not won by acts of violence.  Don’t focus on hunting down the enemy.  Make them react in the way you want them to.  Or as Clauswitz might have put it, find their ‘center of gravity’ and seek to undermine it.

and, as Sun Tzu stated

  • Don’t begin the battle until it is already decided.  In other words, focus on creating the conditions for success, then it will come to you easily.  If we could make them bored, impatient, undisciplined, etc. we would have little problem earning the points we sought.

Finally. . .

  • Let the bad apples spoil the barrel.  Many of our opponents would stay focused, and disciplined — but we could count on the fact that not all would.  A large amount of our points came against a minority of students — students who had a habit of congregating together (creating an inviting target) or being quick to shoot first and ask questions later.  This required patience and careful observation  on the seniors part, but once armed with the appropriate information, we could take decisive action.

After stating these general truths we broke up into squads and started planning Monday and Tuesday.  Nearly all of the ideas came from the students.  I stressed that plans and squads should be flexible.  For us to have a legitimate chance to win, the students would have to cooperate with each on the fly, and expect to do so with different people as the game went on.  I am proud to say that I saw a lot of this during the game.

I’m also proud of how the 9-11 graders conducted themselves.  All the students and teachers I have talked to commented that this year the game was more fun and fair than previous years, and that’s a testimony especially to the students.  My many thanks goes to them.

Please do ask your children about their experiences.  I’m sure they had fun, and I think they learned something in the process not just about planning and coordination, but also about the particular challenges our country faces when fighting an insurgency.

Many thanks,

Dave Mathwin