K-12: Logic Bombs and Pac-Man

A high-tech way of explaining bad schools

By —— Bio and Archives--November 8, 2018

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A high-tech way of explaining bad schools
A logic bomb is code designed to destroy data in a computer.

Imagine you programmed someone to ask people on the street, “Are you from Jupiter?” If people don’t say, “Yes, of course,” you knock them down. Thus they are bombed one by one, as you work your way across the city, until no one is left standing. All very logical.


Tradition, intelligence, content, facts, arithmetic, phonics, geography, history, literacy, basic skills, and fundamental knowledge

If you’d like a visual representation of the logic bomb, think of Pac-Man devouring everything in front of it. 

Pac-Man— whatever gets too close is eaten— is a perfect symbol for anything rapacious and out-of-control, such as our educational system.

The Japanese programmer who invented Pac-Man wanted a game which involved eating or consuming (note there is a disease called consumption). Then he added the idea of a maze, which of course suggests bureaucratic thickets in every direction, the easiest way to keep the public powerless. He finally introduced a “power cookie” which allowed Pac-Man to eat his enemies. Eat his enemies?!  Well, this Japanese guy really knows our Education Establishment, which might well be re-branded Pac-Man-Ed. Consider:

The dozens of dysfunctional theories and methods found in K-12 could be explained one by one in terms of how they work. That would be tedious and perhaps not get to the essence. The simplest thing is to treat them as identical intruders programmed to gobble up everything once deemed valuable: tradition, intelligence, content, facts, arithmetic, phonics, geography, history, literacy, basic skills, and fundamental knowledge. Everything valued a century ago is targeted for nullification. 

Less. We are always in the process of accepting less and becoming less. Did they used to teach the multiplication table? Pac-Man-Ed took care of that. Cursive? It was eaten alive. Precision and rigor? Both chewed up and swallowed.


Destructive gimmicks are encouraged because they gobble up everything traditionally and routinely taught.

Grit, willpower, self-discipline: research says that these things will make students the best they can be. The problem is that the modern public school tends to eliminate these very traits. Stuff that works, that’s what is discarded.

Constructivism, self-esteem, non-memorization: these destructive gimmicks are encouraged because they gobble up everything traditionally and routinely taught.

Subtraction is the key theme, as in the reduction of brains, talent, skills, potential, achievement level. You become less of a person; you become a damaged person. That’s the impact of our Pac-Man-style educational system.

Throughout history, inventors created more elaborate ways to punish people. It wasn’t enough to lock someone up. The culprit had to be in pain. That was the basic idea of crucifixion. (Note that the Constitution’s injunction against “cruel and unusual punishment” was targeting precisely the unnecessary pain added on top of confinement.) Iron Maiden was one of several devices that incorporated nails or spikes, so that if you moved, you hurt yourself. Victims were forced to participate in their own destruction.

The duplicitous feature of so much K-12 malarkey is that it pretends to be educational but its main effect is making the victim a lesser and dumber person.

McKinsey and Company famously concluded in 2009 that each year students are in an American public school they get dumber. More precisely, they fall further behind international competition. They attend school, they sit at a desk, they go through the motions. But somehow they are consumed as if by an unseen Pac-Man.


Each year students are in an American public school they get dumber

So the reality of K-12 is that kids ares not growing smarter. They are shrinking and moving backwards. The only defense against this relentless tide is that everybody understand first of all that a tragedy is happening. Second of all, everyone should understand how it is happening, namely, most theories and methods used in our K-12 are best understood as logic bombs.

Endless effort by very clever people goes into fashioning this stuff. But finally the only way these bad ideas work is that the public permits them to hang around.

So the constant refrain in all of this is that you, if anywhere near the K-12 machinery, are in jeopardy. You may be a focus of the operation itself. Or you may be a peripheral victim. Defend yourself and your society.

Put education back into education

The solution is to put education back into education. That might sound silly but the problem, going back a century, is that the Progressives wanted to dismantle the academic aspects of K-12 schools. They put Pac-Man in charge, so to speak, and hid logic bombs everywhere.

Indoctrination became the dominant concern. Just recognizing this is the first step in education reform. Then we can start restoring academic considerations to their proper place.

One encouraging thing is that pursuing all these steps does not cost more money. It will cost less money. K-12 is vastly wasteful because we teach things badly and then we teach them a second and third time.


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Bruce Deitrick Price -- Bio and Archives | Comments

Bruce Deitrick Price has been writing about education for 30 years. He is the founder of Improve-Education.org. His eighth book is “Saving K-12—What happened to our public schools? How do we fix them?” More aggressively than most, Price argues that America’s elite educators have deliberately aimed for mediocrity—low standards in public schools prove this. Support this writer on Patreon.

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