Tech Salad

With Crunchy Bits and Bytes

Cows, Pigs, Blocks, and Learning

“What did you do today?”

“My friends and I blew up pigs with TNT. We called it a barbecue.”

“That’s not very nice…”

“We also started building a gothic cathedral in our village. It has flying buttresses but we don’t know how to add stained glass windows.”

“That’s better.”

Variations of this conversation are common at my dinner table. Love it or hate it, Minecraft is here to stay, at least for a few years.

Personally, I love it. I have never used it myself, but I’ve sat next to my son as he gives me tours of his ever-growing village with serfs’ cottages, a castle, a forge, community gardens outside the castle wall, and all sorts of things he’s read about or seen in movies. He has also done serious research online to make sure everything he’s including is accurate. What started out as something he had to know for a test has turned into something he really enjoys. And he continues to learn on his own.

If you hate it, you might agree with what this dad wrote for the BBC Magazine: kids become obsessed and do nothing else. Still, think of making the most of the benefits of becoming an expert Minecraft builder. Or think about the serious research kids have to do when building something as accurate as a Minecraft replica of the Forbidden City. Then give this parent a chance and read his very sound advice written for The Guardian. Instead of fearing Minecraft, try understanding it. Instead of keeping kids away from it, set parameters.

I hope teachers will follow this advice and encourage kids to use Minecraft for learning rather than goofy digital mayhem.  In fact, I hope we are able to use Minecraft.edu formally soon.

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