Is Minecraft the future of education?

The question of whether Minecraft is the future is may be a little specific, but I do believe it’s a great one. According to the article on CIO.com, the question should be, “The fundamental question we should be asking children as they grow up is no longer what they want to “be” but rather what they would like to “do”. “

I agree with the premise of both questions. It is my believe that games like Minecraft are the future of education. It is also my opinion that we need to focus more on the “do” than the “be” when it comes to the future of our students.

Why do I think Minecraft is the future of education? Simply put, games, especially video games, lay the foundation of a growth mindset and help to create the critical thinking skills that are so sorely needed in today’s youth.

How many times have you heard a student say math is too hard? Or I really don’t like Reading? To many to count I am sure. But give those same students a difficult task inside a game that requires math and reading and they will play until they figure it out.

What gives? It’s the “doing” that is different. When doing a math problem or reading a specific passage, there is no real reason to do it. Both lack a sense of authenticity that our students need and yearn for. Games give them that authenticity.

As for the “being”, I am in my mid fifties and I like to say I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up. But I do know I love to try new things and share my experiences with others. I also love helping others reach their dreams.

Sounds to me like I like doing over being, and our kids are the same.

Is Minecraft the future of education? No, it’s the present and it’s time for others to jump in the sand box and play with us!

Doing Life

One of my favorite things about being a teacher is doing life with kids.  I feel as if I was put on the earth to take part in this grand experiment of helping middle schoolers through what I feel is the most difficult portion of their lives.  And doing life with them is how I do it.

What is “doing life”?  It’s really simple, going through the daily trials and tribulations of pre-puberty, puberty and post puberty.  Or maybe even simpler, I walk beside them and try to feel what they feel (I’m really just a big kid who still doesn’t know what I want to be when I grow up).  Need simpler? I do life, what ever that is, without judgement and with empathy.

When they need a cheerleader, I cheer.  When they need a laugh, I tell stupid jokes.  When they need a push to get started I tell them to stop picking their nose and eating boogers. But most of all, I allow them to get through the day and be a kid, because that is truly the most important thing my students should be.

In today’s world everything is fast forward (I’m still traumatized by all day kindergarten).  We forget what it’s like to get home, have dinner at a table with our family and then watch TV (with our family) until it’s time to go to bed (9 pm when I was a kid).  And who could forget those special days when, because you were ‘good’, you got a bottle of pop or a handful of penny candy from Murphy’s on the corner.

I miss those days (and my Grandma Murphy) so I try to slow things down, be more like her and let those darn kids do life.

Now that I think about it, maybe I’m not doing life with them…maybe they’re doing life with me.

RAIN

This has been on my mind for a while now and the day of our first snow of the season felt like a great day to let my fingers do the talking.

Recently we had a stretch of rain in my area and I was forced to take a walk on one of the days we were blessed with the wet stuff.  It was during this jaunt I finally figured out why I like rain.

Over the years, some of my favorite activities have taken place during a rain.  Like the time I shot 39 in a down pour.  Or that time I made it home from a run just as the storm hit (trees were down everywhere) and I got soaked.  Then there is that time we drove home in a torrential weather system, hail and all, moving along at 35 MPH and probably still going too fast.

There are many more moments like these but I’ll spare you the trip down memory lane.  The point of this is to share with you how I finally figured out why I enjoy rain during my most recent adventure.

What I realized was thatnduring all of those events, the isolation forced upon me through the curtain of rain was in fact a meditating experience.  I know this now because recently I began my journey of mindfulness practice and the similarities between them are striking.

The calm, quiet focus of that round of golf is unforgettable.  Even though I was in a foursome, I was alone because of the rain.  Dripping water off of the bill of my cap placed a wall between my companions and me.  The solituted was incredible.  I was able to eliminate the chatter of meaningless conversation (with my playing partners, but also myself) and elevate my concentration.

The rainstorm I almost beat home was a similar experience.  I could see the clouds move in and feel the still in the air.  Instead of focusing on the aches and pains of the run, I focused on being efficient and beating the storm.  Although I did get drenched, I felt like I still won the race.  The calm I felt as I pushed my body to it’s limits was exhilirating.

Back to my recent walk in the rain.  Once again, rain drops were creating a wall of solitude, this time off of my umbrella.  I was getting wet on the edges of my body, my feet, my elbows, my knees.  Just the places I couldn’t get covered adequatly.  But the dampness was a reminder that it was the elements and me.

In that moment of solitude, I realized I was meditating.  I was following my breath and focusing only on it.  Time slipped away and I was transported back to the time I was running with a buddy and the sound of his breath and my ability to focus on it, gave me the greatest feeling I have ever experienced.

My practice will get me there again, but this time it will be my breath and I will be dry.