Avoid the Fatal Mistake of Learning Like Schools.

Published in
8 min readFeb 11, 2022


Photo by Stem List on Unsplash

All across America, students are unrightfully allowed to progress to the next grade without fulfilling course requirements.

On the other hand, students of high performance can’t decide to skip a grade either.

Why is it that one group gets left behind on their education and the other group isn’t given room to succeed more?

Ironically, two Federal policies tried fixing these two problems but failed horribly. The “No Child Left Behind Act” and the “Every Student Succeeds Act”.

Schools fail to simulate real-life learning progress for students. Instead, everyone gets left behind and no one succeeds.

Students eventually graduate and enter the knowledge economy as young adults. Many feel unmotivated, unprepared, and directionless. This creates a blockade to success early on.

It isn’t your fault, it's the system’s fault. But, luckily there’s a solution to the years of bad learning you’ve experienced.

Video games. Yes, gamers chose the right hobby.

Video games reflect real learning circumstances: your actions produce your learning materials.

An elite learner like Elon Musk agrees on this when he said:

Generally, you want education to be as close to a good video game as possible.

Teachers, parents, and even other students warned against video games as “a waste of time”. Now we have a billionaire saying the opposite.

What happened?

Let’s cover how schools fail to prepare kids for the real world, and how video games teach more about how the real world works than schools do.

Dependency: Schools Don’t Allow Kids to “Own” Their Education as Video Games Do

Photo by Florian Gagnepain on Unsplash

Education ownership is a big deal.

When students aren’t given the front seat to their learning, they fail to “learn how to learn” on their own.

A dependency on an authority figure’s guidance emerges and all that curiosity that was once there vanishes. Learning becomes a rat race.

Schools turn learning into a passionless “game of grades” because the material is taught in a top-down approach vs. a bottom-up approach.

  • Top-down: students are told what things they have to learn.
  • Bottom-up: students are given resources and get to learn.

Video games change the game because they give you ownership of your learning experience. From the foundation, up.

Although the information in a video game is different, the underlying principle remains the same: learning ownership produces unique, adaptable, and successful paths.

Minecraft has a perfect bottom-up approach to learning. Your learning is self-charted.

Minecraft does an excellent job of teaching its players how to “level-up” their learning experience from the most fundamental level.

Minecraft provides you with a simple framework of:

knowledge + action = result

The first thing you usually do is “punch a tree”. This is the most basic concept of Minecraft. Secondly, you craft tools. Thirdly, you mine blocks.

Eventually, you start building structures! And then you start getting ideas of what to do with your storehouse of blocks and items. The possibilities are limitless! Just like real life.

This “discovery approach” to learning means you get to connect the dots on your own! Alternatively, a teacher in school would tell you what you’ll be learning, instead of just handing you the tools to find out on your own.

The difference in these approaches is the difference between a “clear path” and an “unknown one”.

Image by Visualize Value

”If the path before you is clear, you’re probably on someone else’s.” — Joseph Campbellr.

Learning via the “discovery approach” strengthens your understanding of concepts by making you think about how they connect rather than being told how they connect.

Discovery approach learning also provides a low-impact way to be exposed to difficult concepts. Learning becomes fun.

Now imagine you didn’t own your learning path.

When you don’t own your learning path, your life path is clear like the image above.

But, having a clear path means I have security making a comfortable living right? No, and here’s why.

When you learn to follow someone else’s path you are creating a dependency on it.

Guess what happens when that path isn’t desirable anymore? You get replaced by a system that does your job better.

”predictable paths” + common skills = uncertain outcomes

You are cornering yourself by not adapting:

When your “not rare” skills become less valuable or get replaced by technology, you are out of a job. To future-proof yourself. You need to own your education.

Many paths have been destroyed because of new technologies, industries crumbling, layoffs, and the COVID rug-pull.

When you OWN your learning you know how to take advantage of opportunities. The ups and downs of uncertain paths don’t have to scare you.

When you own your learning, the uncertainty of life can excite you just like a video game because you know when and how to take advantage of an opportunity when you see it.

The system can’t take advantage of you.

Schools are Stressful, Video Games are Fun

Students are stressed by grades.

The grading system puts immense pressure on many students because they feel like they have to perform well or they’ll be “failing”.

Schools don’t say this but, there’s a difference between mistakes and failure.

Failure is doing nothing. A mistake is a learning opportunity.

Schools discourage making mistakes, which is the most basic level of learning.

Why do they discourage mistakes?

It's because grades are a signal of obedience and not learning.

”Grades don’t measure anything other than your relevant obedience to a manager.” — John Taylor Gatto

Kids who are “motivated to learn”, are actually stressfully performing because of the implications that getting bad grades have on their future. They are toxic perfectionists.

What else are they to think?

They’ve been told grades matter their whole life.

Video games are different.

Mistakes are actively encouraged through engaging gameplay. Why would you give up if the game keeps getting more fun?

People play video games for hours because they get immersed in the story, the goal, or the interesting results of their actions.

The level and speed of learning found in video games are higher because they offer a low-impact, stress-free environment for kids to absorb and apply information.

Video games turn learning from a tedious task to something you don’t even realize you’re doing.

This is so important because learning blossoms in an environment that encourages freedom of choice. Choices that inevitably teach you things.

In the video Why You Can’t Make Any Important Decision In Your Life, a therapist outlines the importance of knowing that you don’t know what the right decision is.

In real life, there’s no way to know if your decisions will spell out bad or good. Not doing anything is the worst.

Video games solve this.

In a video game world, you can test out new ideas, die over and over, people still keep playing. Why?

In the case of some video games, like Minecraft, the environment is relatively stress-free with a few challenges sprinkled here and there.

Most importantly, you don’t have to fear making the wrong choice, because you can always rebound.

On the other hand, in a video game, like Dark Souls, a game notorious for its difficulty, people keep playing because of the challenge. Although a game like Dark Souls is difficult, people keep playing.

GIF of Dark Souls

School is difficult because you are pressured to be a perfectionist. You aren’t given any room to rebound from your mistakes.

You are also not given enough of a challenge AND even if you do complete the challenge, better or faster than anyone else, you all receive the same diploma.

That’s not motivating. That’s depressing.

Video Games: Immersive Learning and Financial Literacy

The best learning is inherently immersive.

Humans are excellent pattern-recognizers and the best way to learn is to immerse ourselves in the fullest experience possible. You locate patterns better and establish the fundamentals more concretely.

Photo by Ivan Aleksic on Unsplash

A classroom is functional and theoretical. You are fed information other people have found by working in the actual field. No immersion.

Video games change this. Instead of talking and writing about how you might do something, you immerse and learn through direct interaction.

When you immerse yourself in a good video game the entire world shrinks and your focus is pinpointed towards a certain goal.

Take for example the game RollerCoaster Tycoon.

What happens when you delete part of the roller coaster track

The primary goal of RollerCoaster Tycoon is to design and manage a profitable amusement park. It's more difficult than you think. There are a lot of moving parts.

Although difficult, it is extremely immersive. The tiny people walking around the park each have their own thoughts, pocket money, and opinions of rides.

Each rollercoaster can be customized down to the exact velocity that causes riders nausea. And you can build a rollercoaster that causes *cough* causalities.

RollerCoaster Tycoon takes boring topics, like Physics and Finances, and demonstrates their application in an immersive and interactable way.

You can learn about the forces of velocity by building coasters and you can learn how to profit from the forces of supply & demand.

Financial summary of a fictional amusement park

Above is the “financial summary” of a park within RollerCoaster Tycoon. You can see from a glance that this game is more complicated than it first seems.

This game, meant for kids, teaches financial literacy better than most schools do.

Students would be better off playing RollerCoaster Tycoon than attending their school’s financial literacy class. (if the school had one)

And amazingly, this guy was taught financial literacy through RollerCoaster Tycoon.

There’s still hope for video games. Not so much for schools.

The Future will be Gamified

Photo by Lucrezia Carnelos on Unsplash

COVID rapidly progressed the inevitable: widely adopted online education.

Lizardman (Mark Zuckerberg) has taken the lead on VR and AR learning technology by promising the development of what he calls the “Metaverse”.

Colleges are experiencing a decrease in applicants and more people are dropping out.

Creative note-taking is getting an upgrade.

All of these are signs that the future of learning is changing. For the better.

You can own your education, immerse yourself in fun simulations, and make real progress. All without stressful grades or fake progress.

Gaming is the future of learning.

Want to learn more about the future of education, how to gamify your learning, and how to take control of your life one idea at a time?

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I skipped college, now I write for fun and not for grades.