Chutes

Overview You may know the children’s board game Chutes and Ladders, also called “Snakes and Ladders.” In this game, players roll dice to move from the first square on the bottom of the board to the final square on the top. The first person to reach the final square wins. Along the way, players may land on a chute, which drops them back to a lower square, or on a ladder, which moves them to a higher square. One thing you may not know is that the game dates from sixteenth-century India, when it was used to teach children key concepts of Hinduism. In fact, over the centuries, there have been many versions of the game, including an Islamic one called “Game of Knowledge.” Another version of the game was popular in nineteenth-century Britain. This is not so surprising, since the format of the board has proven ideal for teaching cultural values to children. Directions Your job as a cultural anthropologist is to research how the game Chutes and Ladders relates to the different cultures in which it has been played. Use the Resources to research the history and evolution of the Chutes and Ladders game up through the present and to learn more about cultural anthropology. Armed with this knowledge, create a new version of the game for your own culture or subculture. Your game board will identify the “good” behaviors or beliefs used for the ladders and “bad” behaviors or beliefs used for the chutes. Use the Organizer to plan and create your game board.

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