Blogging Note: If you don’t know what the video game Minecraft is, check out this link and watch the little demo.
Over the last couple of weeks, Minecraft, gaming, and personal devices have continued to surface as topics related to education. Ian shared the following link with me on facebook. He thought that maybe – just maybe – I would finally see the light and let him have as much Minecraft time as his little heart desires. I had to laugh, and it took me a couple of days to get around to watching it, but then I did. And it was quirky and fun. Give it a watch.
This little video led to other threads of conversation, including this TED talk about making education exclusively a gaming format. Now I simply just can’t get into that. At one point in the presentation, TED talker Zichermann describes the days of his grandfather in which a person might sit down on a Sunday afternoon with a good book and a cup of tea and then says with a laugh, “I don’t think that today’s kids are ever gonna do that.” Oooooh. Bad form. Totally lost me there, Zichermann.
But then, as if the stars were aligning, by friend and fellow blogger The Suburban Matron posted about her kindergartener’s school asking its students to bring in their own personal tech devices for use in the classroom. She was struggling with what it meant to use these types of tools at so young an age. (You should read the post, and others of hers too. She’s ridiculously funny). Lots to think about.
But back to Minecraft, to which both of my children are slightly addicted. Eva, who also watched Ian’s little video find, has also been at me to include Minecraft in school. But I just couldn’t get my mind around it. Until today. She, wise child that she is, finally figured out that she needed to be specific to get me to take her seriously. She suggested that she make a history timeline in Minecraft. This caught my attention. “What do you mean?” I asked. “I would make a huge wall out of wool,” she said, “and then post signs along it to create the timeline.”
I agreed to grant one hour a day to Minecraft for this purpose. Because I am so very stingy with video game time (both kids get only up to 1 and 1/2 hours each week, and only on the weekends), this was like saying tomorrow was going to be Christmas, part 2. She started immediately, and as I watched, she created the wall, divided it up into centuries, color coded different cultures (light blue is China, brown is England, etc.), and pulled up some internet resources to help her plot major world events.
At this point, Ian discovered us. He wasn’t going to have this new delight unshared, especially since it was all started by the video that he found and posted to my wall. So I agreed to additional Minecraft time for him for history timeline purposes (if possible – he’s a bit busier than Eva is right now). He took a different approach, digging down into the recesses of the earth, in which he would plot out early human history. As written history begins and the story gets more complicated, he plans on building up out of the earth and creating branches that stretch upward with different and parallel story lines.
Really? Sometimes school planning is so difficult – coming up with creative things to keep the kids engaged in learning is frankly a challenge. And sometimes, it’s like this. The kids create something new and awesome, and I kick back while they teach me about what they’ve discovered. I can’t see anything bad in this. And though I will always always be an eclectic homeschooler (meaning a wide and varied combination of methods), I am happy to include Minecraft in our repertoire, at least for now.
What do you think? Pros and cons? I’d love to hear of your experiences and opinions about gaming in the classroom.
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