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School imposes compulsory Minecraft lessons

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January 14, 2013

No griefing at the back (Image: Gordon Wrigley)

No griefing at the back (Image: Gordon Wrigley)

A Swedish school has made headlines, first at home and then abroad, by making super-popular build-em-up video game Minecraft compulsory for students aged 13.

Video games don't have to teach reading, writing or arithmetic to be educational. There's a strong argument that the best examples wear their educational merits lightly. Minecraft, which lets players share a procedurally generated world, and fill it with constructions built lovingly and painstakingly out of a variety of texture mapped cubes, is a stellar example. It inspires thought and creativity without repelling players with rote learning, rigid structure, or the fusty whiff of the classroom.

Minecraft's potential to inspire has been widely recognized, of course; not least by its makers, Mojang. Its commitment to a free edition of the game for the cheap-as-chips Raspberry Pi computer, itself an educational tool with enormous potential, has been rightly lauded.

Now, according to Swedish news sources, the Viktor Rydberg school in Stockholm has put Minecraft on the curriculum for its 13-year-old students. "They learn about city planning, environmental issues, getting things done, and even how to plan for the future," Viktor Rydberg teacher Monica Ekman told English-language The Local. "It's not any different from arts or woodcraft," she added.

It's not as if Minecraft has replaced one of the core subjects on the school's timetable. This is merely something the school's students will do for a while when they're 13. But it sounds like Minecraft lessons might be a long-term fixture. "It’s been a great success and we’ll definitely do it again," Ekman said, while also noting that some parents were initially troubled.

It may be an isolated example, but it's fascinating to see the benefits of Minecraft, or indeed any commercially successful video game, recognized formally by a school – even one in progressive Scandinavia.

Source: The Local

About the Author
James Holloway James lives in East London where he punctuates endless tea drinking with freelance writing and meteorological angst. Unlocking Every Extend Extra Extreme’s “Master of Extreme” achievement was the fourth proudest moment of his life.   All articles by James Holloway
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8 Comments

There is plenty of scope for education in Minecraft, not least of all with the redstone circuits that can be used to teach everything from fundamental circuitry to advanced logic gates etc.

MisterH
14th January, 2013 @ 12:31 pm PST

agree with MisterH.

Now add Civilization games for 14 year olds to teach the dynamics of running a nation.

Racqia Dvorak
14th January, 2013 @ 03:41 pm PST

Wow this is seriously a start in the right direction! I hope more schools begin programs like this.

-Mark

Facebook User
14th January, 2013 @ 06:45 pm PST

How to take a wonderfully imaginative product where learning happens automatically and ruin it:

Step one: Pick something kids are already learning from.

Step two: Create "lessons" for it.

Step three: Pick arbitrary age it must be "taught" at.

Step four: Make it compulsory.

Schools ~ sucking the joy out of learning worldwide. :-/

Rachel Miller
15th January, 2013 @ 01:10 am PST

It sounds fun, but I'd like to see some scientific research paper with hard facts about the influence of that game on those students...

Slaven
15th January, 2013 @ 11:28 am PST

Unfortunately the real world isn't made of cubes and doesn't work like Minecraft.

Gregg Eshelman
15th January, 2013 @ 10:09 pm PST

@Gregg - Most of the things one learns at the age of 13 have a straightforward and direct use on what most people view as real world applications. They may be indirectly essential/helpful though. Even the process of playing Minecraft may be seen as integrating comfortability with computers

Miyazaki Wataru
16th January, 2013 @ 02:26 am PST

I have been running a Minecraft elective in Ann Arbor, MI for middle schoolers since November and it has been a blast. It really is a wonderful education tool and it was great to be supported my administration .

Kit Bennett
18th January, 2013 @ 06:06 am PST
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