My youngest son is in second grade. There are a lot of things we could talk about, but the subject most often on his mind is the game Minecraft—what he’s building, what he has explored, and how he’s gone about doing it. His older brothers are into Minecraft as well and have been at it longer. My oldest son even did the world a favor by building a Minecraft Fenway Park.
Google the words “Minecraft in Education” and be prepared. From articles describing how teachers are using Minecraft in the classroom to the homepage of a small startup that looks like it wants to be your go-to source for Minecraft-enhanced curriculum, you’ll need plenty of time to wade through the results. Typing the word “Minecraft” into a search at a popular online marketplace for teachers yields 26 results. These include gameboards, spelling activities, and geometry lessons.
The popularity and education angle often noted in regard to Minecraft certainly supports the advocates of game-based learning, but what does it do for you? I can see where it might be a distraction, since there are some days when 99.98 percent of conversations between my youngest son and me revolve around Minecraft. On the other hand, this is no ordinary contemporary video game, lacking the blood, headshots, motion-intensive graphics, and contrived storylines that permeate so much of what is out there. It can work in the classroom.
So what do you think? Minecraft: good or bad for the classroom, and why?