The great MineCraft city is coming to an end. Not because the children are fed up of it. Not because I'm fed up of it. Not because the server cannot cope. No, the reason is simple - it's no longer a creative project that I have given up every lunchtime, assembly time and afternoon break time for the past 6 months.
When the project began I asked children if they used MineCraft at home. I asked them what they liked about it. From their answers I was able to choose a [small] group of creative users. The rest of the children had said they enjoyed blowing things up, fighting, and destroying buildings. These were qualities not needed for a creative project. So the small group began.
Other children - the ones who said they played MineCraft so that they could fight, destroy and blow up objects - started to ask why they couldn't join in. Eventually I started to allow them by setting a challenge. If they could design (on paper) a building for the city, they would have the chance to build it.
It worked well. There was a constant cycling of users, and lots of the children were getting a short opportunity to join in and contribute to the growing city.
And then the complaints began...
...children moaning that they hadn't been chosen.
...children going home and complaining to their parents, who then wrote letters or emails to school asking "Why is my XXX not allowed to join the MineCraft club, when YYY is in it?"
...staff then telling me (not asking me first) that they had told ZZZ they could 'join' because they were feeling lonely
...and then today, an email forwarded to me from management telling me to either release the children who stay in so that they can play with a particular child who has no one to play with, or else bring him into the project "if he decides he wants to".
So, as it was my own time I have been giving up everyday, and my own time every evening checking their work remotely logging into the school server and saving the city in case of any corrupted chunks (as happened before), I've decided to call a halt to the project.
It's over. If it was a curriculum topic, and if it was part of my required duties then I'd continue, and bring the children as asked. But it isn't. It's something I did in my own time to give the children a chance to be creative.
Unfortunately, it's becoming more and more obvious that when you try and make a difference to children's lives and do something creative, if it proves successful you get dumped on.
Their MineCraft city is still online, and some of the pupils have the ability to access it from home if they wish to, so they may be able to continue slowly with the hospital. However, it won't now be running in my lunchtimes, assembly times or break times.
And that's a shame.