To do Minecraft or not to do Minecraft? That has been the question in our house for a while. Then yesterday I met a boy who was only allowed to play on Minecraft for half an hour a week but was obviously completely hooked. On my meeting with him for an hour he spoke mainly of Minecraft – the world , the characters, what he planned to do next . . . It was obvious that this was filling his head in some way and that he is counting the days until he is next allowed to go on the game again.
Intrigued by the power this game seems to have I checked it out myself. I felt pulled into a world of colour and shape – an interesting world where everything was possible – well, that’s how its is sold. However a lot of things aren’t possible. For instance there is no opportunity for your child to learn how to find their own inspiration. It is handed to them on a plate. There is no opportunity for your child to learn about creative process and the wonder of letting go to something big unfolding inside of them. All they have to do is press a few buttons and watch the magic happen. There is no room for feelings. You cannot feel the softness of the stones or the grass. You can’t smell the flowers or taste the water out of the spring. You can see and you can hear but there are no surprises. The bird on the hedge didn’t come to sing for you. You made it. It was is like playing God but with no heart. And even worse you get to destroy at the touch of a button – bash down anything you don’t like and clear it from your path. You get to remold and re-shape with nothing of the effort that it would take in the real world. You don’t get to touch the stones or feel their weight or the burden and joy of carving a beautiful stone wall. It is psuedo-creativity at its worst.
A couple of days ago I talked to my 8 year old son about putting on an art exhibition with Somerset Art Works. He was so excited. I asked him what he might choose as a theme. He said he’d like to paint flowers. We went out into the fields to look for our first pieces of inspiration. There aren’t many flowers out in September but we found a clover, a buttercup, some ragwort and another pretty little flower we didn’t know the name of. We took them home and put them in a jar of water. The next day was too busy and Luca didn’t feel well so we couldn’t do our paintings. By the time we find the space and energy to paint our pictures our flowers may have died. But that’s the creative process. We will have to start all over again with another walk in the fields and I wonder what we may find next time!
Please – let’s keep our children in the real world where they can run until their legs ache and roll on the grass and feels its coolness and smell its sweetness. Let them find their power in their own creativity that springs from deep inside of them. Surely we don’t want our children to act like God but with no heart.