Minecraft and Imagination

The past three young dyslexic clients I have worked with had a passion for ‘Minecraft’. I personally don’t know much about it but always regarded it as a creative and interactive game, harmless and fun. I am not so sure about that any more.

The clients (all boys, ages 8, 9 and 15) all have very poor literacy skills, especially writing and spelling ability. One of them read quite well, but with limited comprehension.

The 8-year old boy couldn’t visualise at all. He wasn’t able to imagine anything (or so he said) and was unable to perceive things on a tactile / kinaesthetic level. No matter the terms I used or how I tried to get a picture, any picture in his mind, I didn’t succeed. His answer surprised me: ‘Why would I imagine it? Everything exists on Minecraft already.’ His writing was very poor.

The 9-year old boy was a good reader, but very disoriented, angry and shows signs of Asperger’s. His outlet: Minecraft. It’s all he ever wants to do. There was little motivation to improve any area of literacy or his behaviour.

The 15-year old boy had motivation, mainly because he wanted to be able to correspond with other gamers and his lack of writing ability stopped him. Reading anything but Minecraft related literature was not desired. His reading and writing ability was seven years below age level. The program was able to reduce the gap. I became his scribe, writing down an essay about the things he wants to be able to write to other people on the game. Then he read the text I had written for him. Eventually we mastered the words he didn’t know or couldn’t spell in clay. Then it was time for him to write the same text. An interesting experience, but worth it. It worked!

Has anybody an experience about Minecraft and literacy?
I am sure it has no negative effect on children who don’t have literacy difficulties.

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