writing > learn > The Right Problems
Last Updated: January 2016
1 minute read

The Right Problems

There was this Naruto episode I watched, about 6 months before I started college, that got me thinking about what lessons are worth being taught in school.

For those who don’t want to watch it, plot summary:

The arc is about an exam ninja trainees, or genin need to take to be promoted to ninja squad leader, or chuunin. The first stage is a written exam. Any team of 3 that has a single member fail will be failed as a group. If any genin gets caught cheating they will be given a warning, and after three warnings they will be failed.

SPOILER AHEAD. No really, the episode is great in this context even if you don’t like/watch anime much

The intelligent though not necessarily book-smart genin notice the leniency of the anti-cheating-system and the carefully worded instructions to “not get caught”, and then find ways to obtain answers from “sources”, qualified chuunin who were intentionally planted in the exam hall who knew the answers, or to collaborate with teammates. End plot summary

I think it’s important to teach kids not just the answers to problems posed, but also ways to find them. If it’s too easy for them to find answers without rigid rules, on their own, from referencing or memorizing contents from a single source, it probably means that the problems we are posing them are not hard or thought-provoking enough in the first place.

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