MONTREAL — A teacher at Mount Pleasant Elementary School in Hudson is using the video game Minecraft to hook his third grade students on social studies.
The class is beginning their introduction to civilization and history with a unit focusing on how the Iroquois and Inca people lived.
“Social studies was one of my hardest things to teach because it was pretty dry. So this helped it to quickly become the most popular thing that we do in class,” said teacher Cory Piedalue.
Now, the class is excited and engaged when it comes to their social studies lesson. Third grader Ethan Paquette said the’re learning about the Iroquois, “about how they lived. They build houses with wood and long-houses for a lot of families.”
“We learn that not everyone lives like us right now,” said another student, Arianna Schuler.
Minecraft allows the player to construct a village and, through resource allocation, make it habitable for the virtual inhabitants.
“It’s a building game, kind of like Lego. It has a survival element to it, they have to learn to survive in the wilderness,” explained Piedalue.
He said he hopes this will hook kids on history and make them want to learn more, adding that with recent discovery of 215 children’s’ remains at the Kamloops Residential School in British Columbia, there’s an increased importance on learning about history.
“We are still uncovering things we didn’t always know about the past and about how horrible it was for Indigenous people,” said Piedalue. “That always comes because of ignorance and lack of understanding.”
While eight and nine-year-old students may not learn about the complexities of Indigenous history, Mohawk and high school history teacher Michael Rice said it’s a good start.
“Kids are like fish. If you hook them on it and the teacher is passionate and excited, all of a sudden the kids are like, ‘This is fun,’” said Rice. “If the first impression is positive students will want to get involved.”
By getting kids interested in history at a young age, Rice said they’ll be more engaged when it becomes more complex.
“Down the road, like senior high, you can talk about residential schools, which is the really heavy emotional part.”