|Scientia per ludum - knowledge though play
Østerskov Efterskole is a role play boarding school in Hobro, Denmark, which uses edu-larp as the main pedagogic tool.
School motto: Scientia per ludum - knowledge through play
Østerskov Efterskole was founded in 2006 by principal Mads Lunau and vice-principal Malik Hyltoft. The idea for the school had been long underway. Lunau and Hyltoft had spent many years collaborating on several projects, and the idea had gradually taken shape.
Østerskov Efterskole was heavily backed by the Danish role-playing community. Under normal circumstances, private schools in Denmark are backed by prospective parents. This was not the case with Østerskov: It found its backers in the Danish role-playing scene, and it's first school board was comprised of role-players.
The school is an efterskole, which is a Danish boarding school for children from the age of 14–18 years of age.
Location and buildings
The school is located in the town of Hobro in Jutland. Incidentally, a lot of prominent Danish role-players, such as the principal of the school, Mads Lunau, originate from the town. Hobro has also hosted the convention Fastaval several times, and has been proclaimed the Danish “capital of role-playing”.
The building itself is a former nursing home. The buildings consist of a single-level floor with an atrium in the middle. The buildings are surrounded by gardens. In the back a small village has been erected, which is being used for fantasy- or historical larps. The Silbertin Farm is part of the village.
The school is conveniently close to Østerskov wood, where fantasy campaigns are held.
Pupils at Østerskov are encouraged to come together around role-playing related activities such as Magic the Gathering, and table top games. Many pupils spend their Easter holidays together at the gaming convention Fastaval.
The school has a larp campaign called Fladlandssagaen, which is open to outsiders who are 10 years old or older. It also has a number of workshops available, where pupils can learn to sew their own costumes, make their own latex weapons, or build their own props.
The education at Østerskov is divided into projects rather than subjects, although a particular subject might be the focus of a project. Each project lasts up to several weeks. The project has a narrative storyline which binds the activities together, much like a role-playing scenario.
Example of Teaching Methods
One example of an Østerskov project is the scenario Overtagelsen af Afrika, wherein the pupils play conquering European colonialists in the 19th century. The storyline starts off with the pupils being given their characters, which are historically important figures from the 19th century. After having decorated a space which will henceforth be their country's home area, the pupils proceed to the main game room, which contains a large map of Africa.
During the first part of the game, the pupils fight over the African territories. By utilising a game mechanic, they are able to push at each other's borders. In order to be successful, they must also solve relevant assignments, such as planning a trans Saharan railroad, making a speech in English to the rebellious plantation owners, etc. At the end of part one, some countries will lose their African territories to others.
In the second part of the game, the losers from the first part come back as African freedom fighters. As the timeline of the game moves into the 20th century, more and more African states manage to liberate themselves. During the third and final part of the scenario, Africa has moved into modern times, and is trying to get back on its feet after centuries of being under European rule.
Østerskov Efterskole has had remarkable results with its alternative teaching methods. Especially pupils that have trouble fitting into a traditional school system do well at Østerskov.
The final tests at Østerskov are the same as in the Danish state schools. To prepare pupils, they are able to take extra courses during the spring semester. These courses are done as traditional education.
So far the statistics show that the pupils come away with good results - generally better than when they came. Also, the far majority of pupils continue their education afterwards.