I love putting myself in the student’s shoes. It gives you a sense of what we as teachers put them through during a learning experience.
For some time now I have heard many people talking about the game Minecraft. I really wanted to know more about it but had put it in the too hard basket after making a couple of attempts to work it out.
Minecraft is a 3D game of blocks where you are dropped into a world with limited tools and need to use the resources around you to survive from the monsters, which come out at night. It is a little like being dropped into the middle of Legoland. Like the real world you are subject to the elements of the environment you are dropped into, like snow or rain. In the first day you are dropped into a new world the race is on to find shelter before night falls.
Yesterday, I finally decided to set aside a couple of hours and have a play.
In their shoes lesson number 1: It takes me a long time to take a risk and have a go.
Before I signed up I had a look around the Minecraft website. Although there was plenty of information on it, most of it made little sense to me. That was until I saw a video about surviving your first day in Minecraft.
In their shoes lesson number 2: I need to do more than reading to understand. When I see something in action it makes more sense.
So it was time to jump. I signed up and I felt confident that I knew what to do during my first day in my new world after watching the video.
Somehow I survived my first night with my life in tact. How I am not sure. By daylight I realised how to get out of the game and head back to the tutorials.
In their shoes lesson number 3: I don’t remember anything if I haven’t applied it.
After watching the tutorials for a second and then third time I felt confident to get back in and have another go. This time I made progress. In the first day I was able to make a crafting table and then I had time to go digging for coal. That is when I found that if you mine down far enough you will come across lava. And lava will kill you if you fall in it! Obvious? Well, I realise that now!
Back to the tutorials I went. This time I found that I could change some settings and make the monsters disappear. <sigh of relief>
In their shoes lesson number 4: I don’t learn under pressure.
So I spent the next six hours slowly making my way through a few achievements and learning the ways of the world in Minecraft, with the help of the peaceful setting. I have now built a house with doors, lit a path between my house and where I am mining for resources and this afternoon I even put a lovely garden of flowers along the side of the house.
In their shoes lesson number 5: Learning something new takes time
So what did I learn?
In the first few hours in Minecraft I learnt:
- It rains a lot in the jungle.
- A good sense of direction in life does not equate to a good sense of direction in a game.
- Lava kills.
- Creepers are mean.
- You can’t break a rock with your fist.
- The days go very quickly when you are working hard.
I also learnt a lot about me:
- I don’t like violence or scary things.
- I like to have order (The first thing I built was a shed to store my tools and at the end of every day I organise my inventory)
- I am a creature of habit.
- The environmentalist in me shows through in a game. (I couldn’t kill an animal. The kids in my class are looking into whether I can survive in Minecraft as a vegetarian and today they showed me how to make shears so I can get wool from the sheep without killing it!)
- When I become frustrated (like being lost for 45 minutes) I like to take a break, walk away and then come back to what I am doing.
This morning I couldn’t wait to get to school and share all I had done with the boys in my class (I don’t have any girls playing Minecraft. Yet!)
The first 20 minutes of school was a great conversation about what I had done. They were all bending over backwards to share with me what I could do next. In that time I was able to connect with them more than any other time this year.
Now I can’t wait to see where this Minecraft journey will take us. And what I can learn next.