Video games aren't just becoming a dominant slice in our entertainment pie, they're being put to unique and inspired use as a teaching medium. With violent video games getting embroiled in the United States’ gun control debate for all the wrong reasons, a little known school from Sweden is glorifying the positive side of how video games can be used as a creative tool in modern classrooms.
According to The Local, an English newspaper from Sweden, a school in Stockholm has introduced compulsory Minecraft lessons to all 13-year-old students. The teachers are hoping that Minecraft lessons will help stimulate and develop students’ thinking capability.
The idea of using Minecraft for school lessons was inspired by a Swedish national school competition that encouraged and invited classrooms to think of ways to make things better in the future
Just because a game is included in a school’s curriculum doesn’t mean the kids will have fun all the time, one would think. However, according to Monica Ekman, teacher at the Viktor Rydberg school, the kids are enjoying the experience.
“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,” claimed Ekman, quoted by The Local. “They learn about city planning, environmental issues, getting things done, and even how to plan for the future,” she said.
According to the Swedish paper’s report, parents were apprehensive of the idea at first, but the school and its teachers think the game useful as a teaching tool. And where the parents were uncomfortable, students themselves are enjoying the use of Minecraft as a teaching method.
For the uninitiated, Minecraft is an open-world sandbox game that lets players use blocks to build anything they’d like. The game has various modes (survival, multiplayer, creative, etc) but hardly any rules, giving players a lot of freedom in playing the way they like.
What’s more, Minecraft is developed by a Swedish programmer, Markus "Notch" Persson, and it’s cool that a Swedish school should help it reach new heights of application and acceptance.