Cheat The System

Alternative view #1: The goal of the educational system is, obviously, to educate people. To improve their knowledge, their skill, their thought processes, their ability to reason, and their ability to create and appreciate the world around them. To make our world a better place through understanding.

Alternative view #2: The goal of the educational system is to crush the creativity and rebelliousness out of children so that they can be productive and docile worker-drones who do not question their place.

Alternative view #3: The goal of the educational system is to get high school students into good colleges so they can get good jobs so they can make money and send their kids into schools where they repeat the process.

I’m more of a believer in #1. There are certainly days where #2 seems believable to me, but I try to see people doing #1. #3, in my eyes, is less the goal of the current system and more one of its byproducts and signatures.

When people have a goal, by definition, they attempt to achieve it. (If you see someone who is not trying to achieve their goal, then perhaps you have misjudged what their goal is.) Many people do so earnestly, but as years drag on, many look to shorten the path to the goal. For example, if you went into baseball to get rich, and you’re stuck in the minors, you’re more likely to bet on your team… or even against it. If you went into modeling to become famous, and you aren’t getting recognition, maybe it’ll help if you act promiscuous with a few actors. Bingo – instant fame, right?

Baseball has a system to keep people from doing that; in fact, there are laws outside the system of baseball that put penalties in place for people who bet against their own team and throw the game. It would be considered dishonest and unethical; perhaps even “cheating.” Fame and popular opinion have no systems against the process I described, but most people who follow that process both lose their fame and are not considered “good role models.”

To bring this around to education:

We have a system. Good lord, do we have a system – we have systems within systems within a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma, within a little paper box.

That system has a goal. What you believe that goal to be affects what you do.

If you believe in #3, that this is all just to get good numbers so that you can show someone your numbers and they’ll give you money, you’re more likely to do whatever it takes to get good numbers. If you can get good numbers without work, hey, that’s awesome!

If you believe in #2, that the goal of the system is to beat you down, then you either keep your head down and make sure no one notices you when you have fun, or you leave the system because it clearly doesn’t have your best interests in mind.

If you believe in #1…

…if we can get students on board in truly embracing and believe in #1…

(message ends here)

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About Colin Fredericks

By day I help to create online courses at HarvardX. By night I write roleplaying games.

Posted on April 11, 2012, in Uncategorized and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

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