Punishment in education

Warning: Some hard expletives are peppered throughout this post. Reader discretion is advised.

Education is backwards.

… well, that’s true, but let me reduce the scope of this post: The “final exam” system is backwards.

Instead of measuring the knowledge of the student, it’s counting the mistakes he/she makes.

Instead of going upwards, it’s a system that begins at perfection and anything less counts negatively.

It incentivizes short-term memory over any kind of long-lasting effects.

It stigmatizes any kind of mistakes. According to the education system, mistakes are perfectly avoidable and if you ever commit one (that is, if you’re human) you should and shall be punished accordingly.

You cannot and should not learn from said mistakes, because once you’ve done something wrong, it can’t be erased, it’s permanent.


I’m not exaggerating here. That’s what it feels like every time I have to study for a final exam, and if you are a student or remember what it was like, then I imagine you’d agree with me when I question:

Who the fuck designed this system?

But I guess the more important question is: Why the flying fuck haven’t we changed such a monstrosity? It’s a horrible, horrible system that needs to be killed with fire.

Right now.

You fail as a student and as a human being, see me after class.

I get the feeling that this system worked in a time when things like these were acceptable. Have we gone soft? That’s a horrible way to put it. I’d say we’ve grown more sophisticated as a society. We’ve gained access to greater and greater forms of entertainment, of immediacy and rewards. We’ve learned how to milk the human psyche both for good and for bad. We’ve done so much in the past 50 years that it’s no wonder the education system feels antiquated, moldy and badly designed.

I don’t know if we should attribute it to a change between generations, all I know is that when I was at school, with each year I grew more and more dissatisfied and I didn’t know why. The kids that are at school today are even more disinterested. Some just don’t give a fuck and just sleep through every single class. Others just play with their cellphones, smartphones and/or netbooks because they are both more interesting and more informative than the classes themselves.

Well then, if the kids of today find these tech thingies so interesting, let’s spice our classes up with some education software!

That’s not how it works. That’s like trying to fix the leaky pipe of the kitchen sink with the molten metal of the currently on fire oven. Sure, it sounds like a nice solution but you might wanna go take a look at that other slightly bigger problem.

Look, the reason why all of these kids are getting more and more bored with classes isn’t because they aren’t flashy enough. It’s because teachers don’t give them compelling tasks. “But Diego” you say, “isn’t that a lot more work for teachers?”, well my friend, that could be true if we approached the problem with brute force. Something like bringing kids to the Grand Canyon to study its geography. That’s nice, but instead I propose something way more simple and general than that: JUST CHANGE THE FUCKING HORRIBLE GRADING SYSTEM.

This is what I designed in 5 minutes:

  • Have everyone at the start of each year with 0 points for every subject.
  • With each homework, with each successful test, grant the student points.
  • With 500 points, the student passes.
  • The maximum a student can get for each subject is 1000 points.

It’s not perfect by any means but it immediately feels “right”. This way, more points mean more work done. Any “grade” that is greater than 500 means that the student either liked the subject or was willing to work harder for a greater grade. On top of that, it’s a grading system that goes upwards instead of downwards: It doesn’t punish students for making mistakes, it only rewards successes.

So, yeah, I had to get this out of my chest.

Also, for more interesting thoughts take a look at this Extra Credits video. It’s one of the more insightful and spot-on videos I’ve seen in years.

Now I’m gonna go to sleep, then get up 2 hours later, go to class, be astoundingly bored for 2 and a half hours and then go home so I can do something way more productive: get some proper sleep.

Update from the university: Yeah, astoundingly bored already. The professor is currently explaining that a six sided die doesn’t have a face with 7 dots. He’s been explaining this for the last 5 minutes…. this is pathetic.

Why am I paying for this? Why am I here? … Oh right, I “need” to know this stuff in order to get the diploma next year.


One thought on “Punishment in education

  1. Pingback: Busywork vs actual learning « Indigo Static

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