Want school to be fun? Try gaming the classroom with Minecraft.

Gabriel Luiz (Game N’ Rock) via Flickr Creative Commons

By: Sophie Koski

Most kids say that school is boring. Sometimes it feels like the walls are closing in and you just want to leave. Most kids would rather be at home, hanging out with friends, or even playing video games. If kids are bored, they lose interest and stop paying attention. School can make kids stressed and tired, and we need to stop that. A good way to make school far from boring is making video games educational. I’ve found a game called Minecraft that can be pretty educational if you make it that way.

Minecraft is a game where you can build things as a community with your friends and you can make the game whatever you really want it to be. People have already considered this, but I’m going to try to spread the word more. Mojang, the creators of Minecraft, say that Minecraft is supposed to be educational. Also, lots of YouTubers play Minecraft. People make tutorials, make tv shows in Minecraft, and educational videos. There is a YouTuber called Stampy, who made a Minecraft educational tv show with another YouTuber called Wizard Keen, called Wonder Quest. Wizard Keen likes to use Minecraft as an educational purpose a lot. He used Minecraft Education Edition for a video one time.

One YouTuber known as PipSqueak talked to me about her experience with Minecraft. Pip is 14 years old and has been playing Minecraft since 2014. Pip vigorously defends Minecraft’s educational qualities, stating that, despite claims to the contrary, “Minecraft is indeed a game with a story” The difference, she says, is that “unlike other games, Minecraft doesn’t make you complete the story. You can do as you wish in the game, therefore making the game suitable for everyone.” According to Pip, these qualities of accessibility and adaptability are what makes Minecraft uniquely positioned to reach kids who might otherwise be turned off by the learning experience offered in schools. “The game allows you the freedom to set your own goals, and that is what makes the game beneficial to kids. Through a game, they learn the importance of setting goals and achieving them.”

Minecraft also requires a lot of strategy and thinking, the kinds of deeper problem-solving skills that teachers would love their students to devote to their math and science studies.Pip says “you have to put a lot of thinking into what you’re going to do in Minecraft survival mode. Most other games will tell you to pick option a, b, or c, yet Minecraft has endless ways for you to get through the game, which requires you to put more thinking into it, while at the same time, have fun doing it.” Pip thinks “Minecraft really has this unique learning aspect to it that can’t be compared to any other games.”

Despite its game play resemblance to good school-based learning, according to user demographics gleaned from player forums kids between the ages of 9 to 15 play a lot of it. At any given moment, there are reportedly 1,000,000 people playing Minecraft. Forum users estimate that approximately 20% of those users are under the age of 15, so at any given moment there are 200,000 kids creating buildings inside of worlds. These could be simple and easy to make. They could also be complex and harder to make. For instance, there is a world on minecraft that is a detailed recreation of Disney World. Users can walk through every park and go on most of the rides that are in Disney World. Some people dress up as the characters that you can meet there and you can take “pictures” (screenshots) with them.

Imagine sitting in school while your teacher reads about stuff that happened hundreds of years ago. That can be interesting, but what if you could walk through what you’re reading about? Let’s say you’re reading a history book. Don’t you just want to stop reading and walk through it? Well, you can with Minecraft. Ask your students to make whatever you’re learning about in Minecraft for homework.

Mojang, the creators of Minecraft, have already made Minecraft Education Edition. Some schools are already using it.

If you google “school makes me feel” you will see that the search results are not very positive. If we add things like Minecraft to school, those results will probably change. Kids will likely enjoy school better and probably be in more positive moods, and get less stressed out.

On education.minecraft.net, there are some interviews from teachers and professors explaining what they like about using minecraft and school. “Students can explore mathematical concepts, when they recreate existing structures within minecraft. They can make contraptions to solve engineering challenges. Or they can work on their literacy skills,” said Michael Dezaunni, Associate Professor of Education and Creative Industries at Queensland University of Technology.

Again, school would be much more fun and probably easier for kids if minecraft was included. There are quite a few people who think the same way, so why not try?

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