Kids should play Minecraft in school – UCC professor

29 Sep 2015

A professor in University College Cork (UCC) argues that computer games in the classroom will help students in the long run, with Minecraft, as usual, the example.

Due to Minecraft’s composition and logical gameplay, as well as a remixed, education-friendly MinecraftEdu application, it is commonly suggested as a learning tool in schools.

Patrick Fitzpatrick, emeritus professor of mathematics at UCC, is the latest to throw his support behind such a process, using a recent OECD report as an example of where the trend is leading us.

Minecraft in schools

The subject of logic itself is rarely taught in the modern curriculum, and it is often regarded as rather lifeless and uninteresting, Fitzpatrick said.

“However,” he added, “the overwhelming majority of school students play computer games, and these provide an avenue for the study of elementary logic in an environment that is both familiar and enjoyable.”

Late last year, similar calls were made in the UK, with Minecraft (again) and even Just Dance, Wii Fit and Football Manager used as examples of how logic and statistical gaming could well help the education process.

Football Manager, too

“I know some schools using fantasy role games and others such as Minecraft, which have the potential to enhance people’s learning,” said Iain Stanger, an Aberdeen teacher, during a discussion on the topic in November.

“Games such as Just Dance and Wii Fit also have the potential to do this.”

Minecraft is immensely popular amongst gamers all over the world, young and old.

Earlier this year, Minecraft was made available to every post-primary school in Northern Ireland, and in 2013 the Viktor Rydberg School in Stockholm hit the headlines after it introduced compulsory Minecraft lessons for 13-year-old students as part of its curriculum.

It’s a world away from playing Snake, on your Nokia, in your pocket, at the back of class.

Boole2School, a global lesson

Fitzpatrick was speaking at the launch of UCC Brings Boole2School, part of an initiative that will see students all across the globe study logic in a Boolean Maths lesson on November 2.

“UCC Brings Boole2School is hugely significant in that it will introduce teachers and students worldwide to the work and remarkable achievements of George Boole, our first professor of mathematics,” said Dr Michael Murphy, president of UCC.

According to Fitzpatrick, “logical thinking is a central element in the learning process and for more than two millennia logic has been the basis of rational argument.

“Using simple truth tables and logic puzzles, students taking the Boole2School lessons learn how statements or situations may be combined and manipulated using the logical operations of AND, OR and NOT.

“In this way, students are introduced to principles on which they can build clarity of thought and understanding of complex ideas, thus providing them with essential tools towards successful learning.”

Updated 3pm, 29 September 2015: This article was updated to include information on Boole2School

Main image via Shutterstock

Gordon Hunt
By Gordon Hunt

Gordon Hunt joined Silicon Republic in October 2014 as a journalist. He spends most of his time avoiding conversations about music, appreciating even the least creative pun and rueing the day he panicked when meeting Paul McGrath. His favourite thing on the internet is the ‘Random Article’ link on Wikipedia.

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