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