I’m a notetaker. I keep a steno pad near my keyboard to jot down interesting comments and ideas, especially when I’m in student mode, as I was this past weekend during the “Minecraft and More Unsymposium” (all sessions archived here on YouTube). In this post, I reflect on some notes I took during the Morrowcraft tour, led by Marianne Malmstrom and a few of her students. I hope to reflect on other sessions later.
Beyond refrigerator art. Looking at a student’s build, a guest teacher asked, “How long does it take to build something like this?” The young builder replied, “A good amount of time.” I chuckled. Not sure why. Perhaps because the student’s response was both sophisticated and elusive. After a pause, the student added, “one or two days.” So much time put into virtual creations is impressive. Then again, creating is fun. Moreover, collaborating with others to build and having others (like in-game peers) enjoy and admire one’s build make it all worthwhile. People (yes, little kids too) seek to make a positive difference in other people’s lives, which includes time creating together and having an appreciative audience. It pleases us to please others. For example, at any time my refrigerator door holds some of my grandkids’ recent art work and poems (you may have a kids’ or grandkids’ gallery too); it makes me happy, and it delights them to see their work displayed when they visit.
Play Spaces. Critics of video games complain that kids aren’t interacting with the physical world enough, that too often they’re glued to a digital device playing games. I concede that there is reason for concern. Yet we know that responsible parents monitor their kids’ in-game time, know what games and with what age-group they’re playing, talk with them about the games, and ideally play games with them now and then. Marianne Malmstrom defended Minecraft as a learning space, a socialization space, and a play space. Regarding the latter, she told us about her childhood, one much like my own, when neighborhood kids played together outdoors way after dark. Today it seems that as much as anything parents’ fear (reasonable or not) keeps kids inside. Is TV, which many parents seem glued to, a better alternative than multiplayer video games – after homework is done? I think not. Reading, conversation, board games, and the like with family and friends, for sure! At other times, such games as Minecraft played with local children and children across the globe, why not? Many video games are interactive, creative, mind-expanding, visually exciting, and collaborative play spaces where learning occurs. Minecraft is one of them.
Quoth the teacher: “Every teacher has access to experts if we can just get over our nervous adult selves – that we have to control everything…. Get to the kids and get to the conversation with them…. I think that’s the only way we’re going to move forward, by bringing all the players to the table and letting the kids help. It’s so much more fun.” ~Marianne Malmstrom