Mentor of the Week – Perin Lal
Involving Parents in Learning Minecraft
I entered a room full of upset parents to meet them regarding a Minecraft class I was teaching. “Kids can kill each other” shouts one parent. “This game promotes violence, aggression and makes kids bullies” said another. “Games have no place in school; we don’t allow video games at home,” said the third parent. You get the picture. I stood there irritable & amused. Irritable that they did not trust me, and amused that their predetermined ideas about education prevented them from recognizing Minecraft’s magnality.
I knew there were no words to calm the angry mob. The Principal stood in the back corner of the room giving me “the look”. I had convinced her about the value of the Minecraft curriculum, and in the next few minutes, I had to do the same for parents. I decided to invite the parents to experience the game, hoping they could decide for themselves if it was good, bad or ugly.
“Everything you described about the game is true,” I told the parents once they settle into their seats at their computers. I told them there are a few obvious reasons kids enjoy the game, number one being there are No Rules and number two the kids get to build things, destroy things, and blow things up. I discussed that there is open plundering and stealing for items and that murder is also allowed. I heard a huge “gasp” of disbelief followed by mutterings under the breath of my audience. “Let’s play the game I exclaimed!” and I spawned the enraged mob into the farmland we have been working on during class.
We spend the first few minutes learning to walk, jump and fly in the game. We took a stroll around the farmhouse, the vegetable fields, and the cattle corrals. Parents started seeing their kids names on signposts. “There’s Kayra’s farmhouse and Stacey’s Corral,” they said. Slowly my group of parents stopped following me and wandered off to find their own child’s farmhouse or field.
I showed them how to open their child’s portfolios, and now there was silence. Each one was reading what their child had written, solved, explored, created or changed. Some had solved a math word problem and some had written a poem. My students built a field based on the area of square feet we needed. My students changed floorplans to better fit the needs of our class. We redesign our secret meeting place when we learned about the Redstone block (gives power torches, rail etc.) It was project-based learning at it best. There was teamwork and comradeship among my students. We were learning Math, English, and Science and we were playing the whole time while doing it.
I saw the stiffness and anger leave the bodies of the parents. They were jumping, flying, building and exploring the Minecraft world. They were asking me questions about crafting and survival. They were all impressed with their child’s work. There was a change in the room’s energy, the mob had turned jubilant. I was relieved! We continue to build, explore and craft until the meeting ended. Before they left, I made sure to kill them all! It would not be fair for them not to experience it. They all left for home educated about the game, our learning in class and convinced that Minecraft Education Edition has a place in class.
Perin Lal is a 2018 Minecraft Global Mentor and currently works for COMPUTERWISEKIDS in Woodland Hills, Los Angeles in the United States. She works with public, private and charter schools to deliver computer skills training using state-of-the-art techniques.