The Facts of the Case By Bruce Ivar Gudmundsson


More great information from Bruce Ivar Gudmundsson and The Case Method In Professional Military Education blog.

As anyone who has read The Killer Angels knows, there is a place for historical fiction in the education of a military professional. However, the moment that an author inserts something that he knows to be untrue into a narrative, that narrative ceases to be a work of history. Similarly, the moment a case teacher changes one of the facts of a decision-forcing case, that case becomes a fictional decision game. This does not mean that the exercise has been deprived of all value, only that it has lost the anchor that connected it firmly to realm of things that actually happened in the real world.

The value of that connection is this: an exercise that is connected firmly to the real world provides the student with a basis for further exploration. He can read about the events he first encountered in the case. He can examine the case from the perspective of different protagonists. He can even challenge the veracity of the facts that were presented to him. Best of all, he can compare his solution to the problem in the case to the real-world solution arrived at by the historical protagonist.

A student who works through a fictional decision game has none of these things. As a result, that student is far more dependent upon the person conducting the exercise than a student engaging a decision-forcing case. This places a great deal of extra pressure upon the instructor, who, instead of merely telling "the rest of the story", but provide his own solution to the problem. In other words, at the point in the exercise where the case teacher need only tell "the rest of the story", the instructor who uses fictional decision games must convince his students of the validity of his solution.