I had seen and heard of innovative ways that teachers have used Minecraft in lessons. I wanted to check it out BUT I was in the middle of a hard semester of study and just didn’t have time to learn it. I introduced it to my 9 year-old son and he quickly became an expert. Now I am learning Minecraft from my son; he is a great teacher!
My son’s enthusiasm for Minecraft impacted his drawings, his writing of stories and how he played with his friends. He made Minecraft costumes out of empty boxes and his friends pretended to be Steve (the main Minecraft character) and Creepers (the bad guys!). Yes! A break from constantly drawing, writing, talking & playing about Star Wars! After a few months his play focus changed to an interesting mix of Star Wars and Minecraft. :-)
I’ve talked to some parents who have had their kids have a “play” with Minecraft and they tell me it looks like “fun” BUT it doesn’t look educational unlike some other skill-and-drill type on-line games. This common type of comment/review of Minecraft by parents says a lot about their views on education. Education is learning new things by experience and by working through problems (like how to build a house in Minecraft before it gets dark and the Creepers come out). I would argue that my children learn more from working through a game like Minecraft then going to an on-line site that gives them Math & English questions to answer in an interactive and colourful way. Kids are not stupid, eventually they get bored of those types of games because they know it’s simply skill & drill – the same stuff they have to do everyday at school! I propose that the ideal way to educate our children is to give them a broad range of activities and learning experiences which includes gaming, bush-walking, reading etc.
There are some teachers that use Minecraft in the classroom in really cool and innovative ways. Check out this video of a teacher using Minecraft with students to explain how neurotransmitters work:
I taught my son how to screen-cast (capture a video of his computer screen & his speech) so that he could create a How-To video and then upload to YouTube. He had to limit his How-To video to under 10-minutes and we had lots of discussion about how to plan what to say and how to show what he means. He learned a lot from this experience. Here is one of his videos:
Here are some useful links if you’re considering using Minecraft in the classroom.
Minecraft in School a useful Wiki
An interesting article about using Minecraft in school
My kids love this video; enjoy!