by Yremia Johnson
“Systems like letter grades that reward people based on results create passive systems of institutional discrimination,” said Javier. “This system rewards small minded ‘play-it-safers’ who operate under the assumption that reward should be equivalent to effort and accomplishment. Our institution has consistently and systematically discriminated against those who thrive on variable ratio rewards systems.”
Variable ratio rewards are the foundation of one of the nation’s fastest growing and most profitable industries, gambling. Javier points out that the attraction to gambling, and the variable ratio system, is what has allowed this business to explode in spite of fierce government regulation and a flagging economy. “We have tried to regulate higher education into success, while trying to limit gambling though the same means,” said Javier. “Neither effort is working. Why? Because education is built on a theory of rewards that has been proven infective through 60 years of research.”
Javier plans on introducing a new grading system based on variable ratios. The hope is that people who believe they can beat the odds on any given assignment will apply such a great deal of effort to gaming the system, that they will in fact learn more than ever before. Javier points to chronic gamblers who spend entire days at a slot machine, or weeks reading books on poker strategy. “If college students put in as much time at the library as gamblers do at the casino, educational outcomes would be through the roof.”
On recruiting trips to casinos admissions staff have met with very positive responses from prospective students.
“I know there is no way I could ‘earn’ a college degree. But I feel pretty good about being able to outwit a few numb-skull professors and whatever system they can devise,” said one professional gambler.
“I did much better in elementary school,” said one wistful slots player. “Things like spot grades on assignments and pop quizzes kept me on my toes. Once I got to college and the syllabus told me exactly what I needed to do to make the grade, I just lost interest.”
Other, savvier, prospects are excited about the system, but have questions about campus life. “Will they have Vegas-style buffets and champagne breakfasts?” asked one. Another student wanted to know what the policy will be on ‘comping.’ “Hey, if I go to Nevada and lose $400 000 I get a nice hotel room and more often than not the manger will send up a prostitute. What do I get if I lose my $150,000 in tuition? An associate’s degree?”