Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Education Has Become A Game

And people are focused on manipulating the rules, not succeeding

Today, parents are focused on making sure their child gets the maximum possible test scores possible, as if their child were a video game character they can Min/Max.

To explain: in many games, video and tabletop, characters get assigned points to various attributes; strength, intelligence, agility, stamina, and those points define how many hits a character can take, how hard they hit, etc.

Min/Maxing is the principle that, in most games, selecting a specific attribute and pumping most of the available points into that attribute yields greater results than spreading them out realistically. So a wizard character would put most of their points into their intelligence, which lets them cast stronger spells more often. Warriors would put most of their points in strength so they can hit harder and wear heavier armor.

But no matter how low a character's strength is, he won't fall over or be unable to walk. No matter how low a character's intelligence is, the player will still be able to play strategically and thoughtfully.


Because the game has to function and the player is not affected by character's attributes.

Those things are not true in real life, and if time was attribute points, parents would be dumping every single point available to their children into the "test-taking" attribute.

It's gotten so bad that we've discovered, as a result of parental and governmental demands to eliminate recess and physical education, that children's balance and physical development are built around play and physical activity. We found this out because schools and parents have created mild physical disabilities, most notably balance problems, by forcing children to sit still constantly.

We've also created emotional problems, by disallowing children to work through their own problems and playing outside with others. Instead, out of irrational fear of bees, peanuts, strangers, accidents and lightning strikes, they're kept isolated in front of the television or on a schedule of formal playdates, sports, and structured activities. As a result, they don't know how to contain or control their emotions and they just end up throwing a tantrum. They've never had the practice of working out their emotions on their own.

Not only emotional problems, but mental illness too. By eliminating the ability of children to play and figure things out on their own and having to constantly go to adults for permission, kids end up with depression (I can't do anything), anxiety disorders (I can't make any mistakes) and, of course, ADHD. This is the result of killing unstructured physical activity and corralling everyone into "academics".

We're also killing non test-centric fields of study. Music, art and theater are being dumped in favor of more "academics". If it can't be on a multiple-choice test, it must be skipped so that the child can be College And Career Ready, get into a Good School, and Have A Future.

Which is crap.

The major complaint from employers is not that kids can't fill out bubble sheets. It's that college graduates are incapable of demonstrating judgment or making decisions and need to be told exactly what to do and how to do it. That they walk in expecting a corner office and a $50,000 salary just for showing up. That they can't handle setbacks. That they don't have basic social skills or etiquette. It's that they missed out on life while growing up and don't have the slightest clue on how to be independent.

But they slam those multiple-choice tests like Mario slams Goombas.

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