Reflections: Fun vs. Fail — The Super Mario Effect|Mark Rober

So… this one is a long time coming. I actually have an even OLDER post, something in the order of over two years old that I’ve left in queue… mostly because it contains some strong thoughts for which I believe strongly… some which may be considered controversial, others may label it extreme or wrong… not even worth entertaining (which is a shame)… or maybe, just maybe — thoughts that just need to be shared.

Well… I’m not there yet. But, we can start here as a primer.


TLDR…errr. “W” – Watch??? 1:01 and 9:55 are PURE PARENTING GOLD.

FUN vs. FAIL

Why this topic? Well… it’s not a secret that I have a certain disgruntled ness towards “formal” and/or “standard” schooling. This is mostly the case because of how the system betrays itself and its students from stage to stage — the goal isn’t learning, the goal is testing… and, as Master Yoda would say….

“That is why you fail.”

Yoda.

The purpose of education SHOULD BE learning… not memorizing and regurgitating… not testing and scoring well… not be swayed one way or another from an educator’s individual world view… learning.

Unfortunately, when you look at the behaviors of what we have today… it’s really more of education = testing well, scoring well, making it to the next level… and, then what??? It has more to do with existential crises of grades vs. self worth. It has more to do with extreme short sighted behaviors despite the promise of investment in long term goals.

ANNND… the thing is, none of how GPAs, test scores, or anything of that nature is FUN. It teaches you to survive or fail — but, not to THRIVE as one should in life. Besides, life is a Pass/No-Pass event. You either go, or you stop. You either finish, or you give up. You aren’t graded on your life.

Yet… that’s what we do to our kids.


Get ready to get gritty… it’s gonna get real.

Of course, at higher levels, learning how to learn, learning to discern — that’d be great, too. What is learning? To me, it’s simple: Gathering an accurate understanding of the world.

If you consider say what a puppy does to “learn” or what a baby or toddler does to “learn” — beyond formal didactic studies or any of that nature, they are trying to gather some sense of certainty in a world that began for them as completely uncertain. Therefore, understanding of the world isn’t readily measured by testing per se. That is why I feel that “failure” opposite the “A+” marks goes completely against how we are biologically wired to understand the world around us.

And, let’s think on this one step further: How well did you feel you understood the world after 6th grade, after 12th grade? How prepared were you to use that understanding to live a productive and meaningful life?? Even after college — how well did that bachelor’s degree prepare you for the job market???

When it comes to the present day customary understanding of the schooling systems… not well… not well at all.

NOW… this isn’t a dig at our educators. I’ll explain more about this in that long awaited post I’ll probably publish next. This is a dig at the systems in place; how these pieces in play force students and educators to betray the mission of learning — and, everyone knows it. No one wants to be measured up against a test score. We’re more than that.

So, ultimately… what I’m trying to share in this post is that we need to change our expectations of learning… make it about FUN, not about failure. We need to use failure as a mechanism to improve learning, not as a potential result… a label one must wear because they tried… for such a thing causes people to lose will to try and try again.

That, would be the greatest tragedy to the spirit of learning.

Failure is the mother of success.

—A Chinese Proverb

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