Wow. So I never would have guessed I would be writing about this topic since I initially hated Minecraft and had never understood why my brother enjoyed playing such a pixelated game; however, my thoughts are changing. I had initially googled Youtube as a great teaching resource but was surprised when an article about “Minecraft being the ultimate teaching tool” came up. After reading the article and watching the video I got to thinking that maybe my opinion about the game had been wrong this whole time.
To explain, Minecraft is like a huge online lego game. You have your character who can build, harvest, dig, swim, and many other things. There isn’t a particular object to the game besides stay alive and have fun. There are certain challenges you can take on (like defeating a dragon), but really the game centralizes around your own imagination. I had asked my brother once why he liked it so much and he had simply replied he enjoyed building whatever he wanted and playing with his friends to do so. I was amazed to see some of the houses, castles, and mines he created and how much time that went in to those.
Here’s a video I found on Youtube that helps show the game experience a little more and also show how creative the players can be. It’s a parody of the song “Wake me Up” done with Minecraft game play:
I was amazed with how much work and time that must have went in to this video. The combination of the lyrics, and videos, and putting it all together would be timely; however, the product is just so cool! Referring back to the article I had read, it had stated a few specific examples of how Minecraft is actually being used in the classroom by 20 000 students today:
1. Probability- build a random animal dropper
2. Physics- measure the time it takes a block to fall and then talk about gravity
3. You can build almost any historical architecture or build sets for Shakespearean plays
4. Use the block to talk about area and volume
5. Create art and put it in a gallery
6. Teach a different language with in-game signs (boards you post notes on)
One of the huge benefits to Minecraft is the flexibility is encompasses. It can literally be altered to fit so many different subjects and objectives while keeping students engaged and excited about learning. One of the main points the article had stated was the importance and benefits of the students being in charge of their own learning. Reaching out to students’ interests and teaching within those domains is always a positive teaching method and one I aspire to use.
While there are many regulations and lessons that need to come before the lessons with Minecraft can take place, there seems to be many benefits to using it in class. While it does not work for every subject, it is definitely interesting to think about how it could apply to my teaching. While I don’t find myself drawn to this video game to play in my spare time, I can now understand why so many kids enjoy it- the freedom to build and play however you imagine. This to me is a very interesting thought and possible teaching tool.