Minecraft in Education…Not Just A Game

Screen Shot 2015-07-05 at 2.15.19 PMThis year, I turned 40 and while all of my classmates were throwing events and dinners to celebrate their special days, my nephew was deep into his system creating a world just for me…in Minecraft.

Yes, I had a Minecraft Fab 40!!

In my world, my nephew created mini games involving getting sheep to cross treacherous paths, a Merry Go Round and a game that allowed players to shoot at boxes with images of prizes…with those prizes landing in a chest and into the player’s inventory. He even made a bowling alley. Yep, we bowled in minecraft!

The best part though, was my roller coaster where Braeden programmed music boxes to play such hits as The Birthday Song, Taylor Swift’s Bad Blood, Everything is Awesome and of course a song from Frozen.

It only took him two days!!

Like many kids, my nephew doesn’t get to play Minecraft in school. As a matter of fact, his teachers told him constantly not to play which meant that we were absolutely going to play much more because through minecraft, the exploration goes much deeper than a worksheet or homework schedule.

I’ve been in teacher tech sessions where I shared creative ways that kids are using minecraft for storytelling and the teacher response has been either that they do not have time or my favorite…

“Minecraft is a game and if we put that on their ipads, they won’t use anything else.”

To be clear…

Minecraft is more than a game. It’s like having a blank canvas to do and be anything. It’s like having a master key to your greatest adventure.

The worst thing that can happen if we let kids play is that they will learn much more than our standards sometimes allow. Those who play minecraft know this but the problem is that most people in charge of schools and curriculum do not. So, how can we change that?

For starters, Minecraft isn’t like any other tech tool that we use. It can definitely be implemented so badly that kids grow to hate it. Please don’t do this. Minecraft was not created to be a single set of choices so avoid turning it into a multiple choice assessment.

When we define the learning that should happen before allowing kids to explore…we are doing it wrong. Instead, give kids the task of mining and crafting to their creative desires. Draw upon that creativity to empower deeper learning. I exercised more math and science in building a house of my own free will than if I were given the definitive structures of what makes a house.

The only way to truly understand that is to play and I think that all teachers should. You can even let kids teach their teachers, which is immensely powerful! What should happen is that as teachers play, they’ll get an understanding of where and how the learning happens.

Discussions should follow and those discussions should probably center on learning and purpose because if we go into Minecraft in education approaching it along the same lines as a textbook or worksheet…it will be that…which is frightening.

If all else fails…challenge your teachers to plan a party much like my nephew did for me.

They’ll get it.

Trust me.

In case you missed it…His minecraft 4th of July celebration


Comments 3

  1. Lots to think about here! We have little access to technology in schools in my district, so these aren’t choices we can/need to make yet in school, but it frustrates me that other middle school teachers seem to understand so little about Minecraft. I teach at an arts focus school, where there is tons of respect for creativity and community when it comes to dance, or drama, or visual arts, but the same teachers speak so dismissively of kids using computers. They believe Minecraft is totally uncreative and even isolating and asocial! My kids talk and solve problems and collaborate with others while they do Minecraft and other computer games even more than they get to at school.

    I also notice that my sons’ female friends’ parents have been much more hesitant about letting them or encouraging them to plunge into this world, and as a result, my sons’ community of online friends ends up being almost exclusively male. As a feminist I find this disturbing for a lot of reasons.

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