“Wait! 1985? Minecraft only came out in 2009!” is what people normally interject at this point.
That’s right! Many of the fundamental and unique skillsets that I frequently use (whether it be in workshops, build projects, or in building lessons) had their beginnings in my gaming experiences going back to the mid-80s! (Even as late as five years ago, if you had told me that my experiences with gaming over the last thirty plus years would become a foundation for my future career as a Minecraft Education consultant, I think I would have been jaw droppingly incredulous to say the least.)
In the summer of 1985, I became a little tired of the handful of games we had for our Commodore VIC-20 (I’m dating myself here) and sat down and taught myself how to write in BASIC and wrote out a couple of the games in the manual. And then I started tinkering with it. As more games and platforms became available over the years, I’ve realized that I was mostly drawn to the ones that had some ability to customize the environment you were being dropped into (and for the ones that didn’t, I imagined all sorts of possibilities for).
So, when I first encountered Minecraft for the very first time, my first thought was: “Where have you been my whole life!” quickly followed by “This game has some interesting possibilities...”
Indeed, Minecraft isn’t so much a game as it is an immersive virtual tool that opens up limitless possibilities to explore. I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to realize and share my passion and experience for those possibilities with students and educators in an educational environment.
Student workshops and lesson planning huddles with educators frequently become “can we…/of course we can!” moments: where we collectively discover a new road in the Minecraft journey that links to curriculum or real-world elements. The excitement in the air as we begin a new exploration becomes an almost tangible entity. Projects that were a stretch with traditional media become amazing creations with incredible depth that students can’t wait to present. The effort, research, and incredible creativity they’ve poured into their worlds frequently inspires me as much as I’ve been told that my works inspire them. It’s a captivating experience for us all, and I’m often told after one of my workshops how much Minecraft has re-engaged students that had “checked out” and re-energized the class.
This is the power of Minecraft Education at work in the classroom.