An Inuit Version of Hesse's Glass Bead Game

One of my favorite mailing lists is: magister-l(at)DRYCAS.CLUB.CC.CMU.EDU where sometimes remarkably profound people engage in apparently legitimate discussions on how to create real a Glass Bead Game as described in Hesse's book, Magister Ludi. Recently I found the following message:

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I couldn't find any game that was about story telling and am interested if
anyone has any references. My only sources on it thus far are from my two
collaborators on the project. One had been given the game when he worked in
an Inuit community in the 70s. He was very interested to hear that I had
come across this list as he had made his own association between the
StoryBones game and the GBG years ago.

My deepest source of reference about the game has been from the
recollections of my other collaborator, an Inuit woman, who remembers it
from her childhood. It was interesting how she told us about the game: We
had the pieces of a game with us, which consisted of the bones from a fish
head (they could be collections from other animals). When we first asked
her how the game went she couldn't remember. As soon as the bones where
laid out in front of her she began touching, then moving the pieces. As she
arranged she began to talk about the rules of the game and its uses. It was
fascinating to watch her use the game to remember the game.

She described how children were told a story while the bones were arranged
in front of them to represent its characters and situations. Gradually they
learned to place the bones themselves accompanied by their own telling.

Adults used the game in a more personal and immediate sense. The story they
told in a group as they laid out the bones was relevant to their current
situation. They used the bones to provide some distance from the topic at
hand, and thus talk about their feelings without being confrontational. So,
for instance, the player might be angry with another member of the group
and make up a story which ridiculed this person without ever identifying
them directly. Everyone would know who they were talking about, and would
probably have a good laugh over it. It would then be up to the victim to
tell a comeback story which exonerated them. It was a way, in these very
small and tightly knit communities, for sensitive issues of the day to be
brought up and dealt with.

If anyone has come across this game I'm be very interested in hearing about
it. I'll send more on our web interpretation of the game in the near future.

Tom

Tom Leonhardt



We use Cuisinaire rods to teach with (other than their
original purpose for teaching math)
Maori here use them to teach their language in Kohanga Reo (language
nests) to children and adults.
They are also used in a similar way to the fish bones to teach
concepts -- We use them in class -- my favourite is a story about the
life cycle of a tree used to teach the philosophy of learning and
helping others to learn -- we use it during the orientation programme
for our Diploma in Business course.  Students love it (ours are
adults) -- sit on the floor in a circle and have "stories" told to them with the coloured
sticks laid out as the story unfolds to illustrate.  Also, each each student has
a a rod or rods to place in the picture and share with others as the
story grows and all become part of its meaning.

Cheers,

Helen Collins

Wanganui Regional Community Polytechnic
New Zealand