Minecraft taught me everything I needed to know about lifelong learning


Well, the title’s probably an exaggeration… but I’ve taken up playing Minecraft lately. With my 4 year old son. And it’s a great learning curve. On learning to learn.

Both of my girls are serious Minecrafters. One is 13 and the other is 9. They’ve been addicts for a while. I’ve remained aloof. Until recently.

For one thing, I wanted to make sure that this virtual environment was something that the kids could enjoy and excel at without any interference from me. I wanted them to be the experts. And they are now.

I’ve also been a bit anxious about having a go. You know, for fear of looking a bit silly and not knowing what to do or how to play it.

Of course, how could I know how to play the game without playing the game. I mean I’ve watched over their shoulders and been given tours of virtual worlds, houses, volcanoes, and machines.

But until the last couple of weeks I’ve refused to partake. Who has the time, right? For playing sill kids games.

But lately, I’ve noticed that for my four year old boy, Minecraft is really social. He wants to play it with his sisters. And with me. With anyone really. He wants to interact and create amazing structures in Minecraft and hang out with all of us while he does it.

So, I’ve downloaded the app onto my iPad and when I can, I’ll jump on with him and we can play together in a world of our own imaginations and creation. I’m happy to admit that I’m pretty much crap at Minecraft, but I’m slowly learning the ropes… er rocks or ore or whatever.

Here’s what I think it’s teaching me about lifelong learning and learning in general:

  1. I had to get over my anxiety about learning a new thing, particularly a thing that involves technology that I don’t understand, e.g. Minecraft has its own laws of physics.
  2. I needed a new and different kind of motivation to get started, e.g. I wanted to be able to interact with my son in this way.
  3. I’m aware that it’s a really big thing, and that the more I learn the more I realise how clever my kids are because they know so much more about it than me.
  4. That Minecraft is quickly becoming a metaphor for me personally for everything that learning and education and schooling should be (but actually isn’t).


Author: Graeme Smith

Education, technology, design. Also making cool stuff...

2 thoughts

  1. Minecraft is taking over the world – one mind at a time.

    My boys almost live in there – amazing. Perhaps I should indulge

    1. yes… I think you should… I resisted for a long time. But I’ve had a blast when I have indulged. Trouble is… it’s something I could potentially get lost in for days as well.

      Here’s the real test for Minecraft friendly parents: Do you know who Stampy Longnose is?

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