Microsoft are releasing an education version of build-em-up Minecraft tomorrow, and it seems like not everyone is a fan.Tom Bennett, an adviser on schools to the government, has spoken out against the usefulness of Minecraft in education, drawing widespread criticism.
Tom Bennett, whose role is described in The Times (behind a paywall, but reported on by Eurogamer) as an "adviser to ministers about classroom behavior" has said: “I am not a fan of Minecraft in lessons. This smacks to me of another gimmick which will get in the way of children actually learning. Removing these gimmicky aspects of education is one of the biggest tasks facing us as teachers. We need to drain the swamp of gimmicks.”
Bennett went on to say: "I would say to teachers: ‘Do you need to use this game or is there something that is cheaper and better – like books?’ By offering a game and a gimmicky way of learning a subject, you run a real risk of children focusing on the wrong thing."
Bennett has called for scientific evidence that the game has a positive effect, dismissing anecdotal data. This has led to a larger discussion about the rights and wrongs of using Minecraft as an educational aid.
Ian Livingstone, who has worked to open several schools with a focus on computing and science, took to Twitter with his views "Clearly @tombennett71 believes a child should rote learn silica sand + heat = glass rather than learning-by-doing in @Minecraft. #luddite ".
He’s also drawn criticism from many other people in the gaming and education communities, before himself turning to Twitter to respond: "If me saying ‘I think Minecraft is a bit of a gimmick’ makes you mad, then maybe rethink your attachment to tech"