We all, I'm sure, have countless examples of how an interest in D&D helps you learn new, genuinely useful, things--or, at the very least, put otherwise useless knowledge to work. However, I'm wondering if anybody out there has stories of actually deciding to use D&D to learn or teach new real-world stuff.
I know, for instance, that this home-school kid I knew growing up wrote an ancient Egypt-based RPG in order to get a history "credit" from his mom.
I'm thinking it'd be fun to build a campaign with the intention of learning stuff, so...what do I want to learn now?
An obvious one is geography--for where I live or places I visit a lot. I'm not much into "New World" D&D, so in order to learn about the US I guess it'd have to be for a Rifts campaign or something, at least in my case. (Using US cities but changing all the names so they sound medieval seems to defeat the point.)
D&D teaches middle-school speed-math, obviously, and always has, so it's easy to imagine someone designing a D&D homebrew with the specific intention of teaching herself or her players more exotic math. I suppose one way would be to make the system as clunky and difficult as possible, with all sorts of pointless formulas you have to feed to get results, and derived stats you don't let yourself write down. Not that that's my idea of fun.
Languages? In school, this would've been perfect: The teacher DMs in Spanish. Everybody says their actions in Spanish. No dice at all--if you say what you're doing right, it works, if you make a mistake, it doesn't. Holy fuck. Holy fucking fuck. I just revolutionized language education. As the levels go up, the DM's grammar and vocabulary get more complicated. Jesus fuck. I could've learned Spanish.
As an adult, I'm thinking this is more complicated. Hire a tutor whose also a DM? Might as well just hire a tutor. Mandy's French is better than mine, now she just has to start DMing...
An easier way might be to integrate it into the spell-casting mechanics--some kind of "if you can say it in the next three seconds you can do it"--type dealy. Though, practically speaking, you'd have to be casting a lot of fucking spells per game in order for it to be useful as a learning tool. It'd have to be rigged so you could cast as many spells as you want as long as you could say them. It needs work, ok, but I think the idea has legs.