|My First Day of Minecraft.|
All I Can Do is Make Holes!
Can't even remember how to choose and place a block.
Some of you may find this amusing, but I actually have gamers in my classroom at Nutrition Breaks playing Minecraft. Students from one of the classes I teach turn up regularly and ask to use my computers. Not once have I thought to ask, "What are you doing?"
I regret not having asked sooner. All it took was a simple expression of interest on my part for them to welcome me into their world. They sprang into engagement, happy and eager to demonstrate; articulate, expressive, knowledgeable and skilled. With me as the learner and my students as the teachers, we have forged a much more interesting relationship. We are on new ground - shaky for me, firm for them. I am the new kid in the class, uncertain how to proceed and desperately attempting to understand norms.
One student helped me open my account and showed me the fundamentals. I now know that W, A. S, and D are not just letters on a keyboard. This small step represents enormous learning on my part. One student showed me how to move and how to choose and place blocks. Another showed me her world: breathtakingly beautiful and full of surprises. I must thank them for their patience as they attempted to instruct me. I think I'm one of "those" students.
My first insight into gaming is that I'm not just learning to play a game, I'm learning to think differently. On my first day I struggled tremendously to complete a very simple range of motions: move through the terrain and place blocks. In my students' eagerness to help me understand the amazing world of Minecraft they overwhelmed me with information - information that was completely logical and self-evident to them, but which was an alien language to me. As I sat there I wondered how often have I done this to my own students? How often have I moved through what I perceived to be simple tasks and left my students in the dust? Probably more often than I would care to admit.
I've realized that as I move forward in my teaching practice, there really is no point in conducting lessons unless I have first determined the next step of learning. That process must be participatory. If a student has not been involved in identifying the next step, learning most likely will not occur.
I went home at the end of the day and attempted to replicate what I had learned. I could move through the terrain, but could not for the life of me remember how to place a block. All I could do was dig holes! Very frustrating. Unable to accomplish any of my goals, I blasted dozens of holes into the terrain. Take that Minecraft!