Saturday, October 10, 2009

The "What's On the Test" Game

Kevin is right when he says that the point of this game is to get the teacher to concede which topics will not be covered on the exam. But then he says that he despises the students who play it. Why?

Certainly the line of questioning is socially condemned. But it's beneficial to everyone in the review session when one student plays this game, because the other students also won't have to study that material. Thus "what's on the test?" is ultimately an altruistic question to ask. You help all of the students in the class equally but you yourself are looked down upon for it.

This generalizes to other situations quite well. For example, if you get angry at someone or call them out for doing something annoying your own status will drop for having a temper or being antagonistic. But if the annoying behavior stops then you've helped out everyone else that that person hangs out with, too. So getting angry for a good reason is also an altruistic act. This is why many parents (especially fathers?) are able to rationalize it to themselves when they lash out at their children.

I never play the "what's on the test" game in classroom-wide review sessions. But then again I am mostly selfish when it comes to classroom success. As is anyone else who studies hard! Remind me how you doing well on your professional exam is going to help anyone else?