Will Wright on Education

Will Wright has some interesting things to say about education in a recent interview with Popular Science about Spore:

And a lot of it also is… you know, some of the most effective education is failure-based, where you’re given a system and you can manipulate it and explore different failure states and success states, and all that. Most of our educational system is designed to protect you from failure. You know – here’s how you write a proper sentence, here’s how you do a math problem without failing. So basically, they don’t let you experience failure. Failure is seen as a bad thing, not as a learning experience. And even when you get to the professional world, things like architecture, engineering, industrial design, they teach you how to do it the right way. Where it used to be you would build five bad buildings and they’d fall down and you’d learn yourself – that was more the apprenticeship, craftsmanship model. You’d build 20 bad chairs but eventually learn how to build a good one because you would learn the failure states yourself, inherently – you’d experience them directly. Whereas when you go to engineering school they teach you how not to fail, so you’re never directly experiencing those failures. It limits your intuitions. Whereas a kid playing a game – the first thing they do is they’ll sit there and play five or six times and learn from that, and they learn at a very core level in a very different way. They’ve actually explored the whole possibility space. It’s not that they’ve been told ‘don’t go there because you’ll fail’ and so they never go there and never experience it directly on their own. They’re encouraged to do that all on their own, in fact they’re directly building that possibility map.

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