Judging by my last post on Minecraft (MC), others could probably tell that I was a little excited (near the end) about learning the basics since I spent much of my time explaining my stresses and achievements. I can relate to a student just learning how to maneuver around in MC and becoming frustrated when help may not be given in the manner one was hoping. However, I am a pusher of perseverance. I believe failure should drive you on to the next thing. I became so frustrated that I had to walk away for a few minutes and I thought about not returning. I thought “Do I really need to learn to play MC for the greater good of my students or my mental health?”
After the two minute reprieve, I decided my answer was yes! I should go learn to actually play MC instead of just being a passive explorer (with no skills my own children do not even want to play with me). It was at that moment, I think I figured out the difference between just playing (passively) and “playing” to learn (and teach by example).
Here are a few things I realized:
- My children (ages 7-16) are better at Minecraft than I am and that fact may stay true for all eternity.
- By me taking a small break, regrouping, and returning to learn more, I showed my kids my willingness to learn and to keep going in the face of danger (creepers!…jeepers!) and when things got overwhelming, I took a break. I recognized it was too much and I walked away.
- Minecraft, although it can be played as a single player game, can involve others in decision making, problem solving, and collaboration. When multiple players are working together towards a great idea (your busy mining), someone is bound to “borrow” items they thought were just theirs and break off to go hoard (and try to hide) these items in some booby-trapped lair. Yes it happens, even among families. What do you do? You have some decisions to make and a problem to solve with other people involved.
- I also showed my children that adults are willing to learn and that they (the children) can become the teachers. Once I started to play, there were so many mini teachers in the room, I had to have them take turns to teach me their special knowledge. It was pretty funny to listen to my seven year old explain how to build torches and move a river of lava. Most kids are more than willing to share information with you (as long as it does not compromise their plans).
All of the statements above can easily be put into a school setting to answer the question if MC would be beneficial in a school setting. One of the largest topics to organize before school usage would be the goals to be set and what information will be covered. I do not think it would benefit anyone to start MC without a stable plan with fallback plans to have when something fails.
At home on the XBOX, we can run around and be passive about what we do but truthfully, when I ask my kids what they are doing while in MC, they have at least a 3-step plan they are working on. I have yet to have them answer that they are “just playing”.
In school, the students would have an “end game” and be expected to produce something (inclusive of writing, reading, and presenting). I can see MC easily being used to enrich topics in Geography, Literature, History, Science, and Mathematics. What more needs to be covered? One could also create an outdoor game for P.E. of Creepers vs.”Players”. But, I would probably spend most of my time building up the surroundings with shelters weapons (pine cones, fake traps) and not actually get to the activity part.