Many of you are probably already familiar with a blog that I discovered a few days ago: The Minecraft Teacher. It chronicles Joel Levin, a 2nd grade computer teacher who has incorporated Minecraft into his curriculum. A wildy popular game, Minecraft “lets the players explore, collect resources, and then build anything they can imagine. Players can also play together in the same world and collaborate on larger projects. Think of it at 21st century online Legos that you can play with your friends.”
The game has become one of DIY’s most popular projects, cementing its place on multiple Challenges under the Gamer skill and becoming a continually trending project on our Explore page. Having played the game, I found the learning curve to be pretty steep for someone who’s not use to this type of gameplay: there is no leveling up, no in-game tutorial, recipes are rarely reiterated, and what’s all this talk about redstone and taming cats? Suffice it to say, I found myself in creative mode, trying to build one shelter after another, getting chased by zombies, and starving half to death before figuring out how to make crops - which is all the more reason why I’m so impressed by the project submissions we get on the site. Makers are building complex buildings, farms, sculptures, and developing their own unique style of gameplay. And at the core of Minecraft, that’s what it’s all about: discovery. If a player doesn’t know how to make something, they go onto Google and discover the Minecraft Wiki, endless amounts of Youtube tutorials, and a gaming community that is readily available to help. There is no right way of playing the game and maybe one day you’ll discover that “Hey, I just wanna build cool things” and ditch all of that redstone stuff and make a giant tubesock turkey.
This is the sort of educational value that Levin sees in the game, enough so that he devotes an entire classroom session to Minecraft. Aside from introducing kids to spatial skills, geometry, engineering, architecture, mathematics, geography, etc., the game fosters critical thinking skills, teamwork, creativity, and exploration. Opening up Minecraft is like walking into a another world, one that you have to research, learn, and discover - much like anything else in the real world.