Irish schoolchildren will no longer have to experience the Republic’s blood and fire birth through grainy black-and-white pics and film reels - they can experience it through the full colour lumpenly pixelated reality of Minecraft instead.
The Mindrising project is providing teaching materials to help Irish teachers, and other community leaders, bolster their classes about the story of Ireland. At the same time, schoolchildren with a bit more time on their hands can use the materials to tell their own stories about Ireland’s future, or past, with a €5,000 digital refresh budget at stake.
Entries can anchor on 1916, 2016 or 2116. We suspect that the first year might be the favourite, being of course the date of the abortive Easter Uprising that was the pre-cursor to Ireland’s eventual shaking off of English rule. And of course, it's personal, because while just a few thousand Republicans at most took part in the rising, it’s an acknowledged truth that they were related to every Irish citizen alive today.
“As an educator, I value the opportunities presented by MindRising 2016 for children and young people to mark the 1916 centenary in ways that promote their historical understanding, help them to connect the past and the present and support them in imagining the future,” said Professor Fionnuala Waldron Cregan Professor of Education, DCU Institute of Education.
Gar Mac Críosta, co-founder of the MindRising project, told the Irish Independent the aim is to help teachers in educating students about the rising. "We created the GPO and Dublin Castle in Minecraft along with lesson plans and supports, and have moved on to build and borrow other sites from Northern Ireland.”
The GPO was the HQ for the rebels who declared a republic on Easter Monday 1916. It has been lovingly created by MindRising in all its pre-rebellion splendour. It was pretty much destroyed during the six days of street fighting.
No doubt it will be an eerie experience for youngsters to wander through the streets of 1916 Dublin without having to worry about random gunfire. Though some might prefer to be able to walk through modern day Dublin without having to worry about random gunfire, giving the capital's latest bout of gang-related violence.
The Minecraft recreation includes Nelson’s Pillar, which survived the rebellion, but was blown up by the IRA in 1966.
As for “borrowing” other sites from Northern Ireland, well let’s just say that’s an ecumenical matter.
That MindRising should turn to Minecraft to help students learn what it’s like to confront one of the most powerful empires on the planet is hardly surprising. The platform was a favourite of kids everywhere, before being bought out by Microsoft in 2014, after all. ®