Reposted from the Atlantic:
Everyone loves to talk about how Minecraft, the popular computer game where players build structures out of blocks, is educational. Indeed, the hype isn’t limited to people who make Pinterest boards, use Minecraft in the classroom, or writers who argue that the game teaches spatial reasoning, reading, computer programming and/or system administration. The parents I run into on a regular basis have also jumped on the bandwagon.
But the problem isn’t that children would miss out on such learning without Minecraft; kids can glean those skills simply by having interests. The real problem is that parents think every activity needs to be educational to have value.
The child psychologist Jean Piaget famously argued in 1936 that spontaneous, imaginative play leads to cognitive development. Kids, the theory goes, need to spend time playing super heroes, cooking pretend meals in pretend kitchens, or just inventing whatever comes to mind. I would add that, in addition to time and imagination, kids also need parents who don’t feel guilty about letting them play with wherever that combination of elements may take them simply because it might not look educational.