Swedish school puts Minecraft on the curriculum
Those are some lucky students
Whereas most schoolchildren have to sneak in a gaming fix at school on the sly, one Swedish hall of education has made playing Minecraft compulsory.
The Viktor Rydberg school in Stockholm introduced the gaming lessons to inspire creative thought. Minecraft, which was developed by the delightfully named Swedish programmer Markus "Notch" Persson and has a global user base of over 40 million players, teaches creative thought the school reasoned, and therefore has a place in lessons.
"It's their world and they enjoy it," Monica Ekman, a teacher at the school told The Local. "They learn about city planning, environmental issues, getting things done, and even how to plan for the future."
Players of Minecraft collect natural resources and use them to build structures within a 3D environment while defending them against zombies and spiders at night. Players can build whatever they like, and they do build pretty much anything.
One team of three players created an entire stop-motion film of Super Mario Land, which involved shifting 18 million blocks representing pixels on a flat plain and took over a month of play to achieve. It's that kind of game - one of those you can start playing after dinner and then realize it's 3:30am and the boss is getting antsy about punctuality.
"The boys knew a lot about it before we even started, but the girls were happy to create and build something too - it's not any different from arts or woodcraft," Ekman said.
The initiative came from a national school competition called "Future City," where students were asked to suggest things that might improve the future. Some parents weren't keen on the idea Ekman said, but it looked as though the classes will become a permanent feature of the curriculum.
"It's been a great success and we'll definitely do it again," she told The Local.
"We think it's a fun way of learning and it's nice for the students to achieve something." ®
... gaming, similation, modeling are all part of the same spectrum. It's not so much what is used but the learning that takes place - back in the mid 80s we used software on BBC micros to practice and enter a national economics modelling competition sponsored by BP (and won it one year - 7k of HP touchscreen PC and plotter). Working in the early 90s in a friend's dept in Liverpool JMU, I used QSAR simulation software to model pharmaceutical tests. Same basic thing - i.e. modeling - but with a different purpose.
Later, I've seen students learn teamwork and planning using the Day of Defeat mod over Half Life v1 ( pre-Steam so it let us install 5 copies per key) - that came from a group of gamers in Sheffield. Games offer plenty of scope in learning and educational shows like BETT usually have plenty of stands to give ideas to schools. Good teachers will be open to using learning experiences from all over the place.
Sounds great, I thought it was odd games faded out of the curriculum in the '90s, when I was at school in the '80s they were a vital part of teaching kids to use computers, I still remember the entire class sitting around the Apple II taking votes on what to do next in Oregon Trail.
Minecraft is a wonderful game for children, very easy to learn, with a lot to master, and most importantly it wasn't designed to be an "educational" game. Those "games" tend to be aimed more at the parents then at the actual kids playing it.
I think my kids will begin lobbying for emigration to Sweden.