Last month, the popular computer game Minecraft launched a new lesson designed to teach children mindfulness, self-awareness and coping skills. According to the press release, the Mindful Knight lesson originated at the Microsoft Hackathon. This was the first time in Hackathon history the company included a category on mental health, which spawned the concept behind The Mindful Knight.
Minecraft Mental Health: Why this Focus?
Deirdre Quarnstrom, the General Manager at Minecraft: Education Edition explains to Parentology how developers decided to focus on mindfulness-based on recent research that shows cultivating well-being and happiness can be just as vital to student success as developing cognitive skills.
“Developing social-emotional skills, like mindfulness, self-awareness and coping, can set students up for both academic and future career success,” she says. “Our Class of 2030 report found up to 40% of future jobs will require explicit social-emotional skills.”
The Mindful Knight Helps Kids Create Connections Outside the Game
Quarnstrom goes on to explain research has shown Minecraft can not only help kids and teens connect outside of the game with one another, and their therapists, but it’s also helped teach them behaving well in virtual spaces can have positive outcomes that translate into real-life. “That’s why we developed the new Mindful Knight lesson for Minecraft: Education Edition, a resource that helps teachers nurture social-emotional learning in the classroom.”
Other Minecraft Lessons
The Mindful Knight is not the only lesson that’s been created for the Minecraft universe with the intention of helping kids nurture and develop social and psychological skills. There’s also a Digital Citizenship lesson, which aims to teach students about trolling, plagiarism and respectful online conduct. Also on tap, Inspiration Island, a floating theme park designed to inspire creativity while addressing social skills like self-awareness, communication and self-expression.
Inclusivity is Paramount
The skills younger Minecraft players learn don’t stop at a social level. “Teachers around the world are also using Minecraft in special education classrooms to support students with different learning styles and abilities, with features like Immersive Reader and text-to-speech chat.” Quarnstrom adds there’s a teacher in New York who’s been using Minecraft to help students with autism, and another in Texas who’s been using the game to help teach English as a Second Language (ESL) to students.
“Studies have shown Minecraft has already helped students develop other social-emotional learning skills,” Quarnstrom says. “Microsoft and Getting Smart found more than 90% of surveyed teachers cited problem-solving, creativity, critical thinking and collaboration as skills gained through using Minecraft in the classroom.”
Minecraft Mental Health: Sources
Deirdre Quarnstrom, the General Manager at Minecraft: Education Edition
Journal of Research in Innovative Teaching & Learning, e-learning and ICT in Education and Getting Smart