Pac-Man and Education Will Die Together

Pac-Man would be a terrible teacher. And yet, the way we’ve built education is to teach our children and scholars to act like Pac-Man:

To go along collecting dots. Memorize the textbook, fill in the right bubbles on a scantron sheet, gather information for the sake of information. Collect the dots.

The result is millions of students graduating with a fancy certificate and a big bag of dots they have no clue what to do with.

It is a far more worthy ideal to connect the dots. To find meaningful connections and solve real problems.

Here are a few inspiring examples:

On Twitter, David Perell shared this fascinating connection between rivers, blood vessels, tress branches and tree roots:

Everything is connected.

And rather than compartmentalize the different elements of our lives (physical, mental, social, emotional, financial, spiritual), Melissa and I realized they’re all connected. And if you focus on physical well-being, it has a disproportionately positive influence on all the others.

When Reed Hastings & Marc Randolph started Netflix, it was also the result of a fascinating connection:

Marc knew he wanted to start an internet company. The problem was what kind? He tried direct-to-consumer shampoo delivery, custom-made dog food, but those didn’t hit. Then he made a connection between

  1. direct-to-consumer products
  2. the internet
  3. the rise of DVDs (which were not mainstream yet)

The result was Netflix.

Today, Netflix is a $25 billion company and is expected to spend over $19 billion on content in 2021.

I can’t think of a single class, lesson or test in school that could possibly prepare someone to make the connections necessary to build the next Netflix.

“Waka, waka, what the he**?”

The evolution of education needs to focus on helping students A) make meaningful connections and B) solve real problems. Memorization does us no good.

And the evolution of Pac-Man needs to take those cheeks full of dots and use them to create something beautiful.

But maybe we can just focus on education for now…

❤️// Zac “waka waka waka waka waka waka waka” Garside

P.S. You can play Pac-Man by clicking this link.

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