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The Ever-Enlarging Garbage Answers

April 25, 2009

Sometimes I read Rhett’s blog and I worry he’s going crazy, a pop-culture reference machine trapped in a place where 13 year old schoolgirls and 45 year old businessmen alike get down to boy bands and non-sensical cartoons with bean-paste head protagonists. Then I remember that brilliant people are called eccentric in polite company, my apologies:

Ok—I’ve finally figured it out. I’ve found the guiding principal behind how everything happens here. It’s called the Dump Truck Theory.

Do you want something? Anything? Really? Ok, here. Have it. Lots of it. All of the components necessary to solve the need are here—we’re just going unload them on top of the problem and let the rest sort itself out. Whether or not those things are arranged in a coherent manner such that they actually create a solution is doubtful at best. The idea is to dump Answer on Problem until Answer is roughly 10x bigger than Problem, regardless of Answer’s ability to be a solution.  For clarity’s sake, its worth pointing out that Answer doesn’t necessarily fix the Problem, it simply means that it’s a response to the need.  A solution solves the difficulty, regardless of size.

from …So We Moved To Shaolin

Basically (and I’m not doing justice to how funny the actual content of his post is, reading is strongly encouraged), Korean education solves problems not by focusing on individual cases, but by piling more and more work on the students in hope that some (in reality, teachers and parents expect all) information seeps into their consciousness.

Kids become burned out, listless, and perform worse on their tests so the new solution is to make them take additional classes for test preparation. Middle school students are being educated from 8am to 11pm in some cases, with all remaining time being used for homework or sleep.

I must say that while I sometimes feel pangs of guilt when reflecting upon my contribution to the Answer-dump in my children’s brains, those pangs are quickly assuaged by the fat paycheck I get each month from my academy.

I couldn’t help thinking though, isn’t America a Dump Truck country, albeit with a different cargo?  Korea’s answer is time: the more time students study, the smarter they’ll become.  College students often back out on engagements to go out and have fun in order to ‘study,’ but they end up in distracting study groups that take them 5 times as long as if they were by themselves.

America’s answer is money: the more money we throw at education, the better our schools will be.  Need I mention No Child Left Behind?  Or maybe the answer will be more drugs?  Both are ineffective Dump Truck approaches, though at least the American kids have time to pursue extracurricular pursuits, like armed robbery or something.

The theory isn’t only limited to education.  Any readers out there notice the Dump Truck Theory in practice at work, college, or in their daily lives?

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