Sunday, April 10, 2011

Sunday Reading: The Minecraft Teacher

minecraft dudeThere are times when I wish I was in elementary school again. It’s not because of the absence of “adult” responsibilities (though I’d gladly trade those in for another shot at multiplication tables). And it’s not because I miss cafeteria hot dogs (urban legend held that you could bounce my school’s rubbery faux-meats off the floor and they’d hit the ceiling).

I want to go back to computer class.

Well, this guy’s computer class, anyway. Joel Levin, a computer teacher at Columbia Grammer and Preparatory School in Manhattan, uses indie gaming sensation Minecraft in the classroom.

Minecraft bears a lot in common with Legos and building blocks. Its nearly nonexistent rule set allows for immense creativity within the rigidity of its mechanics. And unlike many modern games, its open-ended gameplay is focused on creation, not destruction.

The students traverse specific tutorial worlds that Levin crafts and perform different tasks such as build structures with limited resources or solve environmental puzzles. Completing the lesson isn’t the only goal, Levin told Ars Technica:

“They must share resources, take turns, work together, and, frankly, be nice to each other. This is usually the first time these kids have had to think about these concepts in a game, but it goes hand in hand with the big picture stuff they are learning in their homerooms. It's amazing to see how many real world issues get played out in the microcosm of the game.”

Number Munchers this is not. Read the full interview with Levin over at Ars Technica, and stop by Levin’s blog to see how the project evolves.