Mentor of the Week – Monica Joshi

You are the player, and I am the block. Together we make Minecraft.

“Don’t let mental blocks control you. Set yourself free. Confront your fear and turn the mental blocks into Minecraft building blocks and revolutionize your learning system.”

Is your noontime just another typical day with the sun rising to its peak?   Would you like to experience the adrenaline rush by battling a ferocious dragon with your bow and arrow? Would you like to go on a quest where your most valuable tool isn’t a diamond pickaxe or an enchanted sword; it’s a bucket of water? Why not? Chickened out?   Concerned about your safety?  Worried if your parents would let you go?  What if you could experience this from the comfort and luxury of your cocooned bedroom?

Despite being the Minecraft Global Mentor, I had little idea of its implications on education. In my defense, I only got hooked to the game because of my daughter. I always thought, it’s a fun game, and once played, it’s easy to see why it has captured the imaginations of players young and old. But the E2 Exchange actually taught me its widespread applications as an interdisciplinary approach. By making concepts much easier, it has the potential to be an incredibly effective teaching tool.  Minecraft-based learning can be utilized to teach everything from probability and physics, to art, history, and language.

  • Minecraft’s perfectly cube-shaped blocks easily lend themselves to math discussions about volume and area. Minecraft can also be for basic algebraic equations like: It takes 6 planks to make a door. If I have 60 wooden planks, how many doors can I make?
  • Students can write day-in-the-life journal entries about their characters, making up back stories for their characters. Who are they, and how did they end up alone in the Minecraft world? They can also write how-to guides for building structures, mining, fighting monsters, and other in-game activities.
  • Replicas of famous historical sites requires can be recreated.
  • Minecraft can be used to learn about the periodic table of elements.

The possibilities are practically as infinite as the Minecraft world. This led me to the million dollar idea of adopting it in my school as a learning tool.  During a Mystery Skype Session, I randomly popped a question about the game and an enthusiastic student who shared my passion for the game exhibited his technique by building a castle, ship and a jungle. I had found my first crusader.

I learned some invaluable lessons from this unplanned interaction. This encouraged me to go on a quest for more young crusaders and within days, I had a strong team. I could feel the immense power emanating working with this group of people with similar interests towards the same goal. The next step was to involve the other subject teachers so that this game can be used as a teaching aid. I announced a story making competitions, which students will use crafting. The first 3 best stories will be getting a prize and I would have other teachers do the judging. The positive atmosphere of peer learning has made possible a learning environment where students teach teachers and teachers help each other. To my surprise, my most quiet students are the best players.

I believe that thirst for knowledge and a strong will can move mountains. If you have a dream, you must gather the courage to believe that you can succeed and leave no stone unturned to make it a reality.

 

Monica Joshi is a 2018 Minecraft Global Mentor and Head IT at Sat Paul Mittal School, Ludhiana, Punjab.