Minecraft is sweet. I love it, you love it, my kid loves it, her kids will love it. It’s not something that is going to age poorly, because it has already been aged. It is so open and welcoming to players that the graphics and art style have no effect on peoples enjoyment. The sandboxy-ness of the game is there to be exploited. The number one group of individuals that like to exploit things (teachers) have now learned how to ruin children’s days by making them a bit smarter.
The problem with education is that it is so static. I learned how we took over America and how fast a train was going if Jenny was eating a pancake and the square root of XYZ (Hint: It’s awesome), but I rarely spent time actually solving problems. Instead, I learned how to answer them. It worked well enough in my 80’s styled education, but it was not what we would call a real education these days.
So leave it to these teachers to find a way to teach kids how to solve problems without knowing the answer. Santeri Koivisto and Joel Levin spent some time in making Minecraft more accessible to teachers, dubbing it MinecraftEdu. A wiki will help teachers from any educational discipline create a lesson plan that can take advantage of the software’s unique abilities. The best teachers I ever had through all of my education taught lessons through interaction, so it is easy to understand how this could work in the software.
By getting kids more engaged in a world that can be designed for them specifically, they are able to better prepare for what is sure to be a difficult starting point upon graduation. Kids can collaborate to build structures, program things into contraptions, make games and music, plus anything else they can dream up.
Koivisto had this to say about the thought process behind the software:
“Many educational games start with the question, ‘What should we teach with the game?’ and they forget the most important part, that it should be a great game too.”
That is one of the most brilliant quotes I’ve ever heard. To think that someone realized that an educational platform being called a game doesn’t necessarily make it fun, and instead took a fun game and made it educational, is mind blowing. Right now, teachers face plenty of problems and budgeting issues, but it seems like most of them are pretty smart and should probably be given a bit more respect. After all, I believe the children are our future.