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Yes, another Minecraft thread


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Like many kids, my kids love minecraft. My younger is beginning to learn Java programming, and create his own mods using Youth Digital. He LOVES it. I mean, loves it. Programming seems to come very naturally to him, he doesn't get frustrated when things don't work out, and he is learning to work through errors in coding slowly and methodically. He loves seeing his creations "come to life" in the game.  My older has been watching younger take the course, and he is considering whether he has the "patience" to do it without getting frustrated. I hope he tries, but he is more easily frustrated by things than younger.

 

Here are some of the skills I feel younger is learning while doing (in particular) the programming course, but in addition, Minecraft

1) programming language

2) computer skills 

3) patience

4) attention to detail

5) learning that it may take a few times to "get something right" and to just keep plugging

 

OTOH, we are one of those families that, for a long time, didn't allow screens of any kind except for movie nights. Then we expanded it to a few hours each on the weekend. Now, of course, my kids are asking to play during the week, and sometimes, I let them. Am I going down a slippery slope? My kids do a fair number of things out of the house--roller hockey, horsebackriding, sewing class, coop. But they definitely prefer to be programming or playing Minecraft. 

 

I sometimes think about that kid Parker whatever who just sold Oculus Rift to Facebook, who was homeschooled and spent "most of his time" working on computer stuff, tinkering and building servers etc. That was his passion and his parents went with it. But then I think of all the pimply-faced, unhealthy teens who park themselves in front of a screen and ignore the "real world" eating Doritos and barely making eye contact. LOL Okay that's a caricature, I realize, but hopefully you KWIM. 

 

Am I 'encouraging his passions" to let them do more screen stuff (particularly my younger, who prefers learning Java to just about anything). Or am I turning them into drooling screen addicts? 

 

Thoughts?

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I have the same concerns as you.  Our biggest argument with our kids is screen time; am I stupid to give this kid another reason to be in front of a screen??  I think, no.  At least this is something productive, right?

 

I went to a hs convention a few weeks ago and listened to Andrew Pudwa's talk on teaching boys (I recommend it to everyone because a good portion of the talk was about motivation).  He said that the #1 motivator to learning is interest.  He told the story about how he wanted to play the violin from a very young age.  He played for years and then taught for years.  He talked about all the skills that he learned playing violin that he uses today even though he no longer plays and he says he would not be who he is today if he had not taken violin lessons.  He also commented that when kids have these random interests, we need to encourage them because they are put there by God and are a part of that child's soul.  YMMV.

 

All that to say, my son has an interest in this so I'm going to encourage it.  If his interest was play WoW for 26 hours a day, that would be unhealthy and I would put my foot down.  I think if you keep it in balance and are intentional about how time is spent, he will be okay.

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The playing around involved in learning programming can take up a lot of time.  I'm hoping to strike a balance - for various reasons, I'm trying to limit computer time to 1 hr on weekdays (that may sound huge but it flies by fast when they're working on programming).  They (my ds11s) get more time on weekends but still I have to shoo them outside eventually.  They will hop on anytime they think they can get away with it.

 

With Minecraft, my boys usually just play, so I'm glad they now spend most of their time on Scratch instead.  One of them is very into it and is trying to create some sort of Minecraft thing using a mod to Scratch called Explore.  I suppose Minecraft has been a sort of bridge from playing to programming for them, though in our house, Scratch has been much more useful for learning actual programming skills.  Plus, I think the Scratch community has been an uplifting thing for them (whereas their interactions with others in Minecraft are often of the playing-and-slaying-each-other sort).

 

I'm not sure what my ds will do next.  He's had a little intro to Java.  I'm kinda hoping he finally gets around to playing with Python (I got him a Raspberri Pi but it's not as much fun as a PC due to the slow internet capabilities).  A friend of mine recently suggested that, in the long run, Java is on its way out and the more useful language will be C++, though I don't think that plays much into what my ds does in middle and high school.  Next year I'm hoping he'll get through AoPS Intro to C&P and maybe NT as that may really come in handy for him down the road.

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I have no answers to your questions but tell me more about the program he is doing please?  My older daughter has expressed quite a bit of interest in learning to code her own mods.

 

I think there's only one day left on the sale. It is pricey but SO worth it. http://forums.welltrainedmind.com/topic/510687-youth-digitals-minecraft-mod-class-is-on-sale-just-3-days/

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The playing around involved in learning programming can take up a lot of time.  I'm hoping to strike a balance - for various reasons, I'm trying to limit computer time to 1 hr on weekdays (that may sound huge but it flies by fast when they're working on programming).  They (my ds11s) get more time on weekends but still I have to shoo them outside eventually.  They will hop on anytime they think they can get away with it.

 

With Minecraft, my boys usually just play, so I'm glad they now spend most of their time on Scratch instead.  One of them is very into it and is trying to create some sort of Minecraft thing using a mod to Scratch called Explore.  I suppose Minecraft has been a sort of bridge from playing to programming for them, though in our house, Scratch has been much more useful for learning actual programming skills.  Plus, I think the Scratch community has been an uplifting thing for them (whereas their interactions with others in Minecraft are often of the playing-and-slaying-each-other sort).

 

I'm not sure what my ds will do next.  He's had a little intro to Java.  I'm kinda hoping he finally gets around to playing with Python (I got him a Raspberri Pi but it's not as much fun as a PC due to the slow internet capabilities).  A friend of mine recently suggested that, in the long run, Java is on its way out and the more useful language will be C++, though I don't think that plays much into what my ds does in middle and high school.  Next year I'm hoping he'll get through AoPS Intro to C&P and maybe NT as that may really come in handy for him down the road.

 

Yes, programming takes time, that's for sure. And an hour isn't much time, in the scheme of things. I think we will continue to work through Youth Digital's classes and then decide when the time comes. I much prefer they spend time on programming than on just Minecraft alone.

They both want their own server, and I am tempted because then they can upload all their mods to it and they will have an incentive to further their Java skills. OTOH, it's yet another reason to be online!!! grrrrr

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We're in the same boat.  Just another thought for you...my teen got a raspberry pi last year.  For about $100 he is all set up.  He plugs into the TV with an HDMI as his monitor.  It has no internet access (though he keeps telling me he thinks he can set it up :O)  They learn not only about programming but about setting up the system.

 

I believe the website we got it from is adafruit.com

 

The other thing is I would attempt to separate programming minecraft from playing minecraft.

 

Brownie

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We're in the same boat.  Just another thought for you...my teen got a raspberry pi last year.  For about $100 he is all set up.  He plugs into the TV with an HDMI as his monitor.  It has no internet access (though he keeps telling me he thinks he can set it up :o)  They learn not only about programming but about setting up the system.

 

I believe the website we got it from is adafruit.com

 

The other thing is I would attempt to separate programming minecraft from playing minecraft.

 

Brownie

 

Maybe it depends on which version of the raspberry pi that you have (A or B ), but if you have wi-fi in the house, he may just need a $10 wireless adapter that plugs into a USB port.  I ended up buying a 7-port USB hub for my ds.  It will connect though the internet access isn't quite the same as a PC (I don't think my ds can play Minecraft, for example), as all the extras aren't there.

 

I agree with you about separating programming from playing Minecraft, at least in my mind.  For my ds, the playing is a good part of the incentive to figure out how to program.  I think he does enjoy programming for its own sake, but he still needs that carrot of playing something at the end, even if he never actually reaches it.

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