Everyone loves to talk about how Minecraft, the popular computer game where players build structures out of blocks, is educational. Indeed, the hype isn’t limited to people who make Pinterest boards, use Minecraft in the classroom, or writers who argue that the game teaches spatial reasoning, reading, computer programming and/or system administration. The parents I run into on a regular basis have also jumped on the bandwagon. Those conversations usually go something like this:
Parent: Do your kids play Minecraft?
Me: A little.
Parent: I hear it's educational.
When a parent says, "I hear it's educational," I imagine they are actually thinking, "I hear it’s a video game that I can let my kid play and not feel guilty." Okay, maybe some of them truly believe that their kids might learn something. But, as a popular Reddit user’s comment holds, "Minecraft has about as much inherent educational value as an overhead projector." In other words, Minecraft is not intrinsically educational. What is educational is having a passion.
When people talk about what their kids have learned from Minecraft, my observation is that it's almost never something a child has learned directly from the program; no one ever brags about how many monsters their child fought off, and people rarely gush about the types of structures their kid has built. Instead, they talk about everything Minecraft has inspired their kids to do. They read, they research, they problem solve—activities with real educational value.