‘Harness gaming in schools’

Minecraft is played by millions of children worldwide, and schools are starting to use it to teach maths.

Teenagers’ passion for computer and online games should be harnessed by schools to develop their use of logical argument, a maths professor says.

Patrick Fitzpatrick, emeritus professor of maths at University College Cork, said teachers should be trained to exploit technology like a school-ready remix of the computer game Minecraft.

The game is played by growing numbers of global classrooms use it as an instruction tool, including a Swedish school where Minecraft lessons are compulsory.

“Logical thinking is a central element in the learning process and for more than two millennia, logic has been the basis of rational argument,” he said.

Prof Fitzpatrick was speaking ahead of another global initiative in which UCC is seeking to have logic taught to tens of thousands of students. Already, more than 24,000 in eight countries are signed up to UCC Brings Boole2School, which takes place on November 2.

The date is the 200th anniversary of the birth of George Boole, UCC’s first professor of maths, whose Boolean logic is what powers the same devices on which children play Minecraft, browse the web, and chat to their friends.

Michelle Sliney, principal of Coláiste Choilm in Ballincollig, Co Cork, said students at her school will benefit greatly from the lessons, including Irish language ones being adopted in its all-Irish unit.

“The initiative will highlight the hugely significant contributions of George Boole, not just to mathematics but also to IT and ultimately the way we live today,” she said.


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