Suppose a Coin Lands On Its Edge – Reevaluating Education


Based on an enlightening discussion I had in a recent appearance on “Wali’s Youth Show” (FM97). I thought I would utilize this opportunity to extend on some of the discussed ideas. The topic was “Are we producing nation builders or self-seeking graduates trading their degrees for a house, car, husband/wife, and two kids? What is the state of education in Pakistan?” The content of the show was very thought provoking and my fellow guest speakers had the most brilliant ideas to share with the country.

If you are reading this, then it stands to argue that I don’t have to walk you through how the educational system works here. Being an instructor and a trainer myself, I appreciate the fact that knowledge outweighs higher scores (which are not always correlated).

This gives birth to the need of a system that encourages Tangential learning (which we will cover in detail in future posts) and Dialogic learning instead of memorizing bits and pieces of information (information retention through repetition).

So I present to you, the readers and hopefully some educators, an idea. Just so we’re clear this idea is neither my invention nor mine to trademark, I am sharing what I have learned.

Gamifying Education

Do not let the word “Game” throw you off. It does not imply that video games play a role in this exercise. This is implied just to mimic the scoring system found in video games that continues to attract millions of people on a daily basis to an activity.

The current grading system works in such a way that you start at 100 and from that point on you can only lose marks. Let us analyze the implications of this mechanism on a child who is entering the education system.

–          They can only lose marks.

–          The motivation is to avoid losing instead of succeeding.

–          The student risks losing interest in achieving a target that might seem too far away.

I propose a scenario where everyone can start off at zero. From that point forward you can only gain marks. I’ll give you an example.

There can be points for every single activity, showing up on time, being tidy, participating in class discussions. Then bonus points for presenting new ideas, for bringing up an interesting topic of discussion and helping other students with their work. This can be extended into a joint reward of combined efforts and also onto the traditional quizzes and assignments as well which can also contribute to their total points. At the end of the term, the student who has expressed the most interest in class will score the highest. The following are the possible advantages (strictly my opinion) of implementing the aforementioned goal. Let us, for the sake of argument, lift the ceiling from that score and let the student go as high as they can. This can be scaled down to the traditional 100 mark score for official purposes but as far as the students are concerned there is no limit to how high they can score.

–          Students will experience an immediate sense of achievement based on their contributions.

–          This will encourage students to contribute and think outside of the box.

–          Gives a sense of achievement instead of a sense of security.

The best way to test the effectiveness of this mechanism is to experiment with a class of experienced students and this sample could yield interesting results in levels of motivation and the knowledge that they have retained from this exercise compared to a similar group that was taught with the traditional means.

Of course from a researcher’s perspective there are sampling complications and not much faith can be put into the validity of a one-off experiment. But I believe given the shape of the modern student who is more focused on scoring higher as opposed to acquiring more knowledge, this is an experiment worth considering.

What is important for our students is to acquire knowledge and implement it. Retaining enough information to score high on a standardized test is, quite frankly, too mediocre a goal for it to be sufficient for our educational needs.

Writer’s Note:

1- This idea can be implemented as a management tool in almost any industry

2- Children are always ready to spring into action, when properly motivated, this energy can be directed towards the pursuit of knowledge

3- My generation (the current generation) needs to forego our futures in the struggle to make the next generation’s future a worthy future.