Minecraft? Tetris?

besanradwan's picture

When I first told my friends that I had to play minecraft for one of my classes, I got a look of jealous glares. Everyone thought that I was so lucky, until one of my friends said something interesting; she said that she loved playing minecraft, but if someone had told her to play it, she probably wouldn't. That struck me as surprising, and then it made me think. How are we going to using minecraft as a tool to enagage students, and make them feel like this isn't "typical" HW or school work if we still make them play it for a few hours.

 My initial experience with minecraft wasn't frustrating. I am fine with playing video games. I enjoy them in fact. After the first 30 minutes of playing, I started to get settled into my minecraft world, and it really brought out the organization freak in me! The first hour of playing passed and I didn't even realize it. This world was addictive, but all I was doing was having fun! It didn't feel like learning, or at least not topics related to the real world classroom (this is not to say that fun and education are mutually exclusive). I was creating structures,  and then suddenly I thought TETRIS! This game kind of reminds of tetris, in the sense that they are both sysytematic and require building blocks to create a bigger picture, and achieve a certain goal.When I broke down minecraft to be as simple as tetris, it really felt like there wasn't much learning value. Yes, you can re-create historical events (as an example), but how would that engage the student any more than drawing it out on the blackboard? The bottom line is the STIGMA behind learning, and the stigma behind being told to do something. Even if it is something that the student already likes to do, the fact that it is REQUIRED for school, somehow takes the fun out of it, and makes it seem boring. 

Also, why are we so ADAMANT about using technology to better enhance learning? I do not doubt that technology is very very useful in the classroom, but what about good old chalk? Or paint? Why dont we use art to better enhance learning? I think it is very strange that in our society we seem to be so fixated on using technology to enhance our education, even though we don't know or understand how we actually go about this. In other words, we have learning goals, and we think that since technology is adavanced, why not use that to achieve these advanced learning goals. To me this doesn't seem like a smart inference!

Comments

alesnick's picture

putting learning goals first?

Yes, it makes no sense to use a computer when a chalkboard or set of blocks will do a better job (assuming these are available).  My question about this, though, is whether at times a new tool lets us imagine new goals.  

asweeney's picture

True. But to challenge this,

True. But to challenge this, I could ask: is there really a better tool than the brain to imagine new goals? The beauty of what my mother called "imaginary" games---basically I just talked to invisible people or walls as a kid---was that the goals of my games were infinite but I only needed one free tool---my imagination:-)

asweeney's picture

imagination is also present

imagination is also present in mine craft....I know this. But the brain is cheaper and more readily accessed. Using the brain as a source of imagination makes it so that the "time" for imagination is ALL the time and in MANY places. The "time" for virtual imagination is usally only during screen time. 

asweeney's picture

imagination is also present

imagination is also present in mine craft....I know this. But the brain is cheaper and more readily accessed. Using the brain as a source of imagination makes it so that the "time" for imagination is ALL the time and in MANY places. The "time" for virtual imagination is usally only during screen time. 

alesnick's picture

imagining imagination :)

Yes, imagination is open 24/7, and a source of endless possibility and renewal.  I wonder whether we can think of different inputs -- Minecraft, a novel, a friend, a flower, a conflict, an election, an equation -- all as food for the imagination, or, better, as toys for it.  I'm thinking that all experience, include "screened" experience, becomes available to the imagination at different/various times?

besanradwan's picture

Also, I felt VERY anti-social

Also, I felt VERY anti-social when I was playing this game!

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