Amplifying Minds

Learning and Growing Together

Just Because Someone Says It…

doesn’t make it true. Not everything on the Internet is true.  Not everything people say about a tool is true.  We all come to things with our own lens, our own biases, and sometimes limited knowledge.

And, as we evaluate resources we use in our classrooms, we need to be thinkers about them–looking carefully at how it’s used, who uses it, and often we have to think about unintended uses as well.

I recently wrote about Minecraft.  I’ve been struggling with letting kids play it in my room for a while now, and I readily admit it’s because I don’t know it well enough. I’ve read and heard enough to know there’s no doubt it can be beneficial, but I really don’t want kids in my room just killing zombies on the devices I have.  Too many other kids want a turn at the other apps I have carefully selected for them.

So today I followed a link about 4 reasons kids should play Minecraft. I was interested in why this Mom changed her mind about her kids playing Minecraft–but as I read, I became more concerned with the title (Minecraft: The Video Game That Makes Kids Good) and some assumptions that were being made.

The writer quotes some experts on Minecraft, but I think she also makes some pretty big leaps.For example, the first reason kids should play Minecraft is because it teaches morality. Yet the expert’s quote is “It’s like ‘Lord of the Flies’, but hopefully with happier outcomes.” Well, that means it could be horrible… and jumping from that to it teaching morality is a huge leap. Maybe it can teach morality when kids get into it deeper than my elementary kids are, or maybe when they have a kid mentor that teaches them how to play, or maybe when they talk about it with someone, but just playing it?  I doubt it. I don’t care who says so.

And, as for it being Facebook with training wheels?  Well, again, that’s only if there’s guidance to go with it. The person quoted teaches gaming, for goodness sake.  Of course he’s going to have conversations about good uses and how to play it ethically.  If he doesn’t, he’s not a good gaming teacher. But I venture to say that in many places Minecraft is being played, there is no one there having those conversations.

As for #3 and #4, there is no doubt the game CAN support those things, with a knowledgeable adult to guide children… but the game itself does NOT teach impulse control or foster collaboration.  What a silly statement. It’s not about the game itself…but what folks do with the game. Even the person quoted in #4 says the kid “MIGHT” think about Minecraft and use what he learned there.

It’s NOT about the tool.  It’s about how the tool (in this case, Minecraft) is used and exploited and guided and yes, maybe even ignored. What causes learning is  the context in which the game is played–it’s the conversations and interactions that come from playing the game.

And that’s really how it is with any resource we choose to use–it’s not all about the tool , but how we choose to use it.  When people claim any game–or resource– can do things, we should look long and hard at how that happens–and whether it’s a true statement, or there are other conditions that impact whether the tool or resource is worthwhile.

Just because someone (even an expert) says it, doesn’t mean it’s true.

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