Embracing Minecraft

Patricia Platt shared a wonderful account of change in their unschooling on the Always Learning list on August 29, 2011:

Thanks to what I learned from the blogs, presentations, and books of experienced unschoolers, I set out monkey platters of fresh food for my son and his friends while they gamed. I talked to my son about his gaming whenever I could. I found videos about Notch and Mojang (see http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/2pp/minecraft-the-story-of-mojang). I bought him a Minecraft creeper t-shirt (http://www.thinkgeek.com/tshirts-apparel/kids/e76a/?cpg=froogle), which he wore every day for two weeks straight. I watched tutorials on YouTube with him. My husband and I helped my son download mods and get his own Minecraft server. When he got into the "Planes" mod and started to fly the Fokker Dr. 1 airplane, we rented the movie "The Red Baron," and I read to him about Manfred von Richthofen and WWI. He created a WWI airbase for his planes in Minecraft.

I also started noticing how much my son was learning by playing Minecraft. One day I noticed that he can now type as fast as I can (learned from chatting online). He had just recently turned nine. He has also learned how to spell and punctuate, to write polite and assertive emails (e.g., to request help from the server hosts, friends, or minecraftforum.net), to download and store files on a computer, to install mods on Macs and PCs, to create Minecraft "skins" using a pixel art editor, and to create really cool virtual structures and games within the game. Yesterday, he showed me that he'd created an agenda for himself in Minecraft. :) He's even learned important life lessons, such as how to stand up for what's right, even when it means admitting that someone he thought was a friend was not really a friend (all related to dealing with a compulsive griefer). He has learned all this and much more through Minecraft play, while deepening friendships and having a lot of fun.

Still, I missed feeling close with my son. So finally, last month, I finally got my own Minecraft account and started building with him, side-by-side. It has been so great! We're closer than we've ever been. I'm having a lot of fun. One of his friends' parents told me she'd heard I was a really good builder. I swelled with pride. :) But the best part is that now my son really sees me as a true friend who has embraced his passions. (And now sometimes when my husband or I have to run an errand, he asks to go with us.)

Sooo, my advice is to embrace Minecraft and be grateful that your child has an interest in this truly amazing and limitless game! My son has learned so much from playing it. So have I! I have to admit that my husband and I still miss traveling as a family, though. So, this year we've decided to take our family vacation by traveling to Minecon, a huge Minecraft convention. It will be held in Las Vegas on November 18-19, 2011. We can't wait! Check out minecraftforum.net if you're interested!

The account above is most of this original post: https://groups.io/g/AlwaysLearning/message/62447

Hi Sandra,

You were speaking of Minecraft art, and I thought of this one our son, Ethan, made for us this past anniversary (our tenth). Ethan was so excited to share this with us in the morning when we all awoke. He even put a few tamed wolves, sitting at the end on the right, waiting for us.

We each have our own characters on our own laptops, so we all joined and visited his wonderful gift together. The pictures show what his creation looks like during the day, and at night. It was so great!

Karen James

click to enlarge

Kristiva Stack wrote:
We are taking our two children to 'Minecon' also. It's going to be quite an event for our family!

I was also very prejudiced and fearful when my son (12) first started spending lots of time playing (FPS) games on the xbox and minecraft on the computer. Long story short, I realized that everytime I rejected his interests I was missing an opportunity to connect with him. And connection became my priority. Even before I understood anything about video games besides my shallow observations and judgements. As soon as I shifted to respect, a whole new world opened for me. I also learned some amazing things about my son.

Alyson P. wrote on the Always Learning list in April 2013:
Just a note to share some clarity that came to me from our family enjoying Minecraft together. We started playing Minecraft last month after reading about it here under your "Minecraft support" discussion in March. This rainy morning, they are all in their own rooms on their computers playing together in a shared world, Dad included (parents take turns on the office computer). I'm hearing a lot of talking up and down the hall, like "Please don't spawn animals in the tunnel, dude!" ...or "hey guys, come on over here if you want to help me dig out this new section." ...and "hey! I found something in a cave, come look." ...and "how do you spell 'build'?"

Meanwhile I'm going back and forth to each room to hang out for a while as they show off their cool forts and villages. It's so cool. We also play a lot of Wii, board games and card games together every day, and so this has been a good fit for our gaming family. I realize now that I had previously stayed away from Minecraft all this time -- not introducing it to the kids -- because I really didn't understand what it was all about, and also because I once heard a group of parents cautioning that once your kids start Minecraft, you will typically lose them to it forever = never able to get them off the computer again (just like those cautionary discussions about limiting "screen time" or food/sugar). It's been a few weeks for us with Minecraft, and no one is overloading nor becoming obsessed. Instead, I'm seeing lots of sibling-play, creativity, natural learning, cooperation and fun. (We don't have high-speed Internet out here yet, but when/if it comes they'll eventually be able to take it to another level with online play.)

We have been slowly making changes as a family over the course of this year, regarding how we homeschool, how we spend time together as a family, and also relaxing over food, bedtime and media. I'm seeing our experience with Minecraft as yet another example of what can come from choosing joy, while moving away from old patterns of fear/limits/control.

Stéphanie Meloche wrote on the facebook group Radical Unschooling Info, May 17, 2013:

A few weeks ago, I came here asking for ideas for the interest of my son for sewers. We explored most of these ideas and I also asked my city to arrange a visit! Here's a little video that my son made (translated by me) about it (he wants to share his work with you). There is a little something for you in the end... :o)

[Note from Sandra: The sewer ideas are saved here: SandraDodd.com/sewer]
Another account of Learning from Minecraft on this site, and a newer directory page on Minecraft reports and links

Minecraft, and why I think the kids are alright by Robin Stevenson, January 2014

What my kids are learning while playing Minecraft (on Michelle Conaway's "Living, Learning & Loving Life" blog, July 17, 2012)

Minecraft, a mine of information! (on Tam Palmer's blog, "Sprout, Squidge and Moppet", June 9, 2012)

Embracing Minecraft Sue Patterson says she hadn't seen my 2011 page of the same name when she named hers in 2017. It has some good resources.

Video Games Being with your child, in the present Monkey Platters