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if you don't recall the start of my minecraft career, it might be prudent to refresh yourself before continuing.

i'm continuing to log minecraft hours with the boys. playing with the boys reminds me why adults often talk about how quick kids are to pick up new technology things and how young people view us as slow and addled. after teaching technology matters to university age kids and playing games with my own elementary age kids, my take is slightly different. yes, i agree young people are fearless towards technology but their approach also tends to be frenetic and superficial. their grasp of the intent and potential of what is before them is, i guess expectantly, immature. and this observation applies just as much to something like excel as it does to another thing like minecraft.

i find older folks, technology-interested older folks at least, are more ruminative about technology. i believe there are a number of obvious and legitimate reasons for this more measured approach. a lot of people are quick to call an older person's more cautious technique a detriment but, in my experience, this is not exactly right. in some regards a more contemplative approach proves more meaningful, especially when put against the harried bounding from shiny thing to shiny thing without taking time to understand what future benefit this glossy object may hold.

so an ideal scenario might be the blending of these two approaches which has proven out in the time the boys and i have spent together. case in point. my boys preferred playing minecraft in a safe, creative mode where you had all the resources you need and no bad guys around to get you. i kept asking them about how the game was meant to be played. after many such inquiries i learned there was a mode that dropped you on a plot of land with nothing but your two hands AND you better get a shelter together on the quick because when the sun went down the bad guys came out. so you essentially had to find (e.g. mine) resources in the day and make (e.g. craft) the things you needed all while trying to stay alive. for two boys who always played in the safe, creative mode, they quickly complained of missing resources the few times i talked them into playing the game "for real". i asked them where these resources were. they said you had to find them. i asked where one should look. they said the best place was caves. so i said, lets go find some caves. which we did. we ran around them and found a few resources but there were more things we hadn't found, the precious and rare stuff i was told. i asked where those things were. they said deep, deep underground.

while the boys were crafting things and building our shelter with the supplies we had found, i thought about what they told me. i returned to the largest cave we had found. i went to the deepest darkest corner of the cave and started digging. digging down. or rather making a set of descending stairs. i went through one pickaxe. i grabbed another and kept going. i told myself when this second one ran out i'd quit and try to think of a new approach. after about ten minutes of straight digging and just before my second pickaxe gave out, i knocked a block out and behind it was nothing but open air. i took a second to verify what i was seeing and then cleared a few more blocks away and sure enough, i had stumbled onto a subterranean cave. i widened the hole so i could safely get onto the ground and put up a torch. as i ran around the space, planting torches so i could see, i found blocks speckled with different colors, colors i hadn't seen before. bright red. shiny blue. soft blue. i asked alex what these things meant. after the boys turned to glance at my screen, they went completely nuts shouting things like OH MY GOD, THAT'S LAPIS! THAT'S SO RARE! OH MY GOD THOSE ARE DIAMONDS! DAD YOU HIT THE JACKPOT! WHERE ARE YOU? WE'RE COMING! it seems the boys had never found, naturally at least, these resources in the wild. after that discovery i was named the master-miner of our team (alex being the master builder and anthony being the master adventurer). my position is so well established that even when the boys now find such mines on their own and i tell them they don't need me anymore they say NO WAY DAD. YOU'RE THE ONE WHO TAUGHT US HOW TO DO THIS SO YOU ARE STILL OUR MASTER MINER.

we were playing last weekend and exploring the largest subterranean cavern we'd ever found. i was standing on a ledge that was precariously high and was trying to cut steps into the side to get down. alex in seeing what i was doing matter-of-factly said over his shoulder, "be careful dad. you have valuable skills we need, so don't die." i'm embarrassed to tell you how much that simple comment from my eleven year old son meant to me.

APR2014

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