Minecrafting Our Moral Reasoning: Course 1 Final Project

My interest and passion in video games has been in sharp decline ever since the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) was pushed off its pinnacle by Sega and Super Nintendo back in the early 1990’s. In fact, I more or less retired from the video game world after Atari and NES became uncool and old, but not because they became unpopular. The thing that pushed me over the edge was Sega’s addition of a third button, the “C” button. Really? Another button to learn? I only have one thumb and I don’t need another button to get unlimited lives in Contra! Modern 1990’s society moved on with their neon colors, rollerblades, bike shorts and advancing gaming systems and I chose to dwell in the past, content with my late 1980’s two-button pixilation (decked out in neon bike shorts and oversized rollerblades).

Photo Credit: rapapu via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: rapapu via Compfight cc

I have to admit that I am, and apparently always have been, a throwback. I loved the simplicity of Atari and original Nintendo back then as much as I love the simplicity of original hockey sweaters now. I had so much reverence for them back in the day that in my freshman year of university, I went out and bought an Atari and original Nintendo (with a power pad) for my dorm room. Needless to say, according to printed photographic evidence, we invented plenty of creative drinking games based on Atari and power pad competitions.

It’s not surprising then, that after only ever willfully playing Atari and original Nintendo my whole life, that I find myself slightly over my head in what I’m about to embark upon. For some God-forsaken reason, I’ve decided to jump off the deep end (as usual) and design the majority of a unit of inquiry based on something I have no idea about: Minecraft.

Photo Credit: post-apocalyptic research institute via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: post-apocalyptic research institute via Compfight cc

Now, I’m not going to get up on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and declare that, “I have a dream.” I am, however, going to get up on this COETAIL blog and declare that, “I have a vision.”

I have a vision for what potential lies in Minecraft based on no degree of evidence or personal experience with the game. Rather, I have a vision for what Minecraft can do for this unit of inquiry based only on hope and anecdotal comments from colleagues in the field of education. I’m following the trail of inspirational examples they have left behind and my intuition on this one. I don’t know whether it is possible to enact the vision I have or whether I am going to be in for a rude awakening, but I’m not afraid to find out. It was Thomas Edison who once said, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

With this venture into the unknown world of Minecraft in education, there is a chance that my vision will fail. However, in contrast to Edison, I’m looking at it not from a perspective of finding ways that won’t work, but rather, finding ways for the future that will.

Photo Credit: deeplifequotes via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: deeplifequotes via Compfight cc

How We Organize Ourselves

Central Idea:  People adhere to governing systems that impact their behavior.

Lines of Inquiry:

  • Governing systems

  • The actions and choices we make as members of society

  • Our awareness of the consequences of these choices and actions

Related Concepts: Governing systems, behavior, beliefs, opinions, subjectivity

The words governing system in this unit are often initially interpreted to be the external system of ordinance that rules or exercises decision-making authority over a given population. Although there is a slight focus given to that external system of control in this unit of inquiry, the primary locus resides on the individual’s internal governing system, their moral reasoning, that impacts their behavior.

Every human faces a plethora of moral or ethical dilemmas on a daily basis which require them to make decisions based on their system of reasoning and beliefs. The personal choices that we make each hour of each day not only reflect our own inner values, beliefs and attitudes as individuals, but also reflect our society’s as a whole. The external governing system that is agreed (or sometimes forced) upon a society is also a reflection of those internal governing systems that comprise its member parts.

For this unit, students will be using the learning tool Minecraft to create a virtual society that would bring out the internal governing systems that they adhere to. In that process, the external governing system they would share as a societal whole would reflect the internal governing systems the individuals adhere to. These governing systems would be evidence in their virtual interactions with one another based upon their real-world moral reasoning.

Photo Credit: dietmut via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: dietmut via Compfight cc

My intention is to create and impose situations and limits within the Minecraft world that would require the inhabitants (students) to make decisions based on the ethical or moral implications of their choices. Students will be introduced to the world without any external governing system and be given questions and provocational prompts that would imply that competition might be necessary (just like it is in the real world), but does not say as much outright. The situational context and roles introduced to the students before entering the Minecraft world will intentionally include other concepts and central idea themes from previous units. This will facilitate access to their prior knowledge and extend formerly learned concepts within a different unit of inquiry.

The societal construction and building of an external governing system will bring out the moral reasoning and ethical consideration of every action they take. Students will constantly be going through The Action Cycle and will be exhibiting differentiated degrees of the Learner Profile traits and the PYP Attitudes based on their moral reasoning development.

Back in the real classroom, students will have regular Philosophy 4 Children conversations centered around issues occurring in their virtual reality and blog about the governing systems impacting their behavior (both those as an individual and those inside their virtual reality).

Over the next month, I will be utilizing as much of my PLN as possible to help lessen the steep Minecraft learning curve that is currently doubled-back in the shape of a learning overhang. If anyone has MinecraftEdu resources suitable for the gaming-challenged, I would graciously accept all help.



One Reply to “Minecrafting Our Moral Reasoning: Course 1 Final Project”

  1. The best part of about this is there is a growing community of educators to tap into around using MindCraft. Not sure if there is a twitter hashtag around it (would surprise me if there wasn’t) and I know there is a Google+ community that is pretty active. Some great places to go to bounce ideas and learn more. Find that community and learn away!

    Also here is a course 5 final project using MindCraft. link to youtube.com

    Just saying you can use this for your whole COETAIL journey. 🙂

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