Steve Korpusik CASE STUDY

Statecraft is the future of educational engagement


The top three reasons that Steve Korpusik uses Statecraft in his high school classroom are:
       1. It prompts students to interact with one another           and build relationships that span the rest of class.
       2. Students are taking the information at their                   finger tips and engaging with it.
       3. It’s fun!



Winter 2023, February 20


Steve Korpusik has over 27 years of teaching experience. He currently teaches at Farmington High School just outside of Detroit Michigan. He has sed Statecraft’s IR Simulation for 6 years in the fall semester and has grown his AP Comparative Politics courses from 2 to 5 annually due to the excited generated in his classes.

Outside of the classroom, he works at a golf shop because it’s where he wants to be on the weekends. He enjoys the challenge of the innate, minute, and sometimes grandiose differences in courses that make his walk to each hole a brain teaser and a social lubricant. Steve Korpusik has been teaching social studies for 27 years in Michigan at the high school level. The classroom is his golf course for much of the year as he navigates students’ needs, personalities, emotions, and desires. With five AP Comparative Politics courses in which 132 students currently enrolled would normally depend on him to be their purveyor of knowledge, Korpusik decides to supplement his pedagogy with Statecraft Simulations. Of course he teaches the AP standards required, but nearly 30% of his class time is devoted to students engaging in what he calls “the most fun thing I do. It’s the most interesting. It’s so much better than just even the lessons I have that I love.”

Korpusik referenced a shift in educational needs due to the pervasiveness of technology. “Once everyone starts walking around with phones, I think the whole game changes because now you don’t have to know the information, you can find the information, right? Like who even knows the phone number anymore?” Korpusik reflects that the advent of mobile technology has changed education for students, as they no longer need to memorize information, but can instead find it easily online. “So ultimately to me what this has become about and why I started changing my classes around so much is because you end up with a lot of value. And what can you do with the information once you access it? That’s always been a valued skill. Now everyone at least, you know, in a typical high school, they can access step one. This is why to me, kids find textbooks uninteresting because who needs a textbook, right?” 

He explains that this is why Statecraft is so powerful for students to experience as they are the ones engaging the information to which they have access. “They’re engaging their minds. They’re doing something they can’t really do on their phones. They’re involved in tons of social interaction. You have ways of taking every single personality into account and they can have a role in this that’s meaningful.” For example, “if a student is introverted, they may take on the role of President of the country, quietly keeping information organized and coordinated. If a student is outgoing, they may take on the Secretary of State, who sits at the table and engages with others.”

Korpusik suggests that teachers should emphasize this value of the simulations’ active learning approach to district administrators, stating “you’re giving the kids something. They get to immerse themselves in this… it’s the application of those facts that they’re really learning.” In other words, students are not just passively reading about concepts, but actively applying them, which is a more effective way of learning.

Additionally, Korpusik stated that students start talking about the game throughout the day and after the first year or two of implementing the simulation, it was a “real word of mouth activity within the school.” He went from teaching 2 AP Comparative Politics courses to now enrolling 132 students in five of the same AP classes on an annual basis. “We’re getting way more kids exposed to the AP curriculum.” He emphasized that it is important to invest in such challenging learning experiences because it motivates students who might not enjoy school and inspires them to take more challenging courses.

Korpusik also emphasizes the importance of group work in promoting social interaction and building relationships between students. “So you get different friendships that get established and that leaks over when you’re doing the actual coursework,” he says. By encouraging students to work together and utilize their individual strengths, Korpusik has found a way to engage every student in his class and promote meaningful interaction between them.

In a class this past fall, the President of one of the countries decided not to build up their military, but rather to invest in big projects. As a result, the country kept getting invaded, but they were clever enough to divide the benefits of their projects with the invading countries in exchange for respecting their sovereignty, which ended up making those countries reliant on their country’s resources. This created a strange trade pact and alliance and that other countries essentially acted as their defense. This strategy worked as they could keep getting big projects and did not have to spend money on military maintenance.

“My role is also modulating them emotionally. Your country gets invaded. Are you emotional? Are you going to be emotional briefly and then try to rationalize your options?” Korpusik explains that he inquires about how students plan to proceed in times of emotional flare ups. “What are you gonna do? What’s your plan? What are your options? You’re not going to have the answer in two minutes because no government has the answer for this in two minutes.”

The value of these simulations are evident when students are excited and engaged in the classroom. Korpusik says that most students will want to participate in these simulations, and parents are impressed with what they see when they visit the classroom. “Don’t you want to walk into a class like this? ‘This is really cool. I wish they had this when I was in high school instead of having to memorize the information.'”

Though Korpusik’s love for games makes him incredibly excited to use Statecraft Simulations in his classes, he claims that passion is not needed as the simulation runs itself and does that work for you. “As a teacher, it’s way more enjoyable even if you’re not a gamer seeing the kids interacting. Seeing the kids be interested, if not enthusiastic, in what they’re doing.” 

Korpusik sees where education is going and how technology can support students in their pathways to conquering the challenges that lie ahead. He claims that we are “moving forward and giving kids things to do that are not your traditional means of academics and that are more experience based.” Comfort in the systems that retain an education system destined for the cliff are preventing our current students from acting on the information they are supposedly ‘learning’. “Don’t your administrators want this? Or do you just want to, you know, do what my former colleague referred to as  the march of the textbook?”

Korpusik knows that he is closer to the end of his teaching career than the beginning and that 27 years of students passing through the desks in front of him have been made better by his efforts. He knows what has worked and what hasn’t in student engagement, retention, and development which is why he continues to use Statecraft in his classes. Maybe you’ll see Korpusik at the golf course one Saturday morning as you ask how to get out of the sand trap on hole 14. He’ll listen to you gripe and complain and then lean in and ask you “What are you gonna do? What’s your plan? What are your options?”

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