real life, simulated

On the drive home from School, A. told me about a simulation that she and her 9th grade cohorts were immersed in. Based on their grade point average from the previous year, they were decreed worthy of a certain level of education and a corresponding career, and then a corresponding income for them to budget for a hypothetical adult life. She was indignant that, even for the purpose of an educational activity, students should be judged according to some mostly meaningless middle school grades. I was proud of her sense that there should be more to assess a person on something so isolated and that it was unjust to project an identity onto kids based on that single number, even as she had a “perfect” 4.0 GPA.

Her previous year’s performance assigned her an advanced degree, and a random roll of some dice blessed her with the role of a dentist with two kids, for whom she elected to pay for music lessons. Also, she married someone who didn’t work, but it was unclear what he or she actually did with their time. I was hoping that they would at least help the kids with piano. Still, she somehow managed to have money to spare each month, and I’ve since been wondering if she should manage our very real, not so surplussing budget.

The best part was to learn about the diversity of destinies that these young people were faced with. Janitors, accountants, and college professors were all potential lifetime sentences that these children had to consider. Most amusing, her friend got to become an elementary school teacher — exactly what she’d wanted. “How did that work out?” I asked, as A. had been telling me about expenses and how different people had to make ends meet.

“Fine,” she told me. “She just also had to enlist in the army.”


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