Wednesday, 15 January 2014

#rhizo14 Challenge Week 1 - Cheating as Learning

At the moment I'm registered on two MOOCs: Introduction to Forensic Science on FutureLearn and #rhizo14. I've participated in many MOOCs (I've lost count). Many of them I felt were xMOOCs but I wasn't so comfortable with my first MOOC experience which I thought was a cMOOC, in fact my only cMOOC experience (I think). That was my very first MOOC experience and I think it could also be down to not quite knowing how to take part in a MOOC. So I'm taking part in #rhizo14 to try it again.

Adapted from Molly Steenson's CC attributed 'flying duck' (Original image available from modified image licensed with the same conditions

Week 1 Challenge - Use cheating as a weapon. How can you use the idea of cheating as a tool to take apart the structures that you work in? What does it say about learning? About power? About how you see teaching? 

I used to be a student who hardly ever questioned what was on the text. I think the main reason was a bad experience I had when I questioned the teacher in a primary class. I can't recall what exactly happened but it was not a pleasant experience. Did this non questioning harm my learning? - well... I am not sure. At least from the exam grades I received I was OK. But did the exams measure the capacity to think, reason or the capacity to reproduce? I'm not sure.

As a Physical Science Student and then an Engineering student there was always a definite correct answer for a question - or at least I believed so. But when I started a my postgraduate course suddenly there were questions with not just one correct answer. It was OK to disagree with the teacher/facilitator. It took me long to accept, understand and be able to think in these terms. My understanding of the world started to broaden as I saw and questioned the multiple truths existing at the same time. I started to question why I did not 'see' this light earlier.

If one is not given the opportunity to question, I think there is little possibility to develop this capacity. So this teaching to me is a type of cheating - cheating the children of the multiple truths and making them believe there is only one truth. Before starting my postgraduate studies if there was a government or UN (or so) publication with statistics I would accept it as the truth. But now I know that they should also be questioned as to how the statistics were collected and so on. This knowledge brings power with it. It gives you capacity to think beyond what is there in a text.

I did my schooling in a different continent, different cultural background where traditions played a major role at least in formal education. Teacher was never (or hardly ever) questioned. Teacher questioned you and it was always meant to be that way. There was a great power distance between pupil/student and teacher/lecturer. Facilitator was not a term that was even considered. Everyone was expected to progress in the same path. Being 'different' (not in terms of ethnicity or origin but in other terms - for example everyone was expected to be good at maths  being exceptional in art was not so much a thing to celebrate) was not - well hardly - celebrated. For example, I had a classmate with exceptional talent for art. She did biology for Advanced Level, I am not sure whether it was her choice. She ended up taking exams couple of times to enter the Medical College. Now she is a Fashion Designer for a major Corporate in that industry and a lecturer in Fashion Design in a leading university; studied and worked in London; now she is doing her PhD.

To me it is liberating to know that there can be different interpretations of the same; different deconstructions of the concepts I formerly held to be 'true'.


  1. Hi Tharindu, This is quite a different view on cheating as a weapon: So this teaching to me is a type of cheating - cheating the children of the multiple truths and making them believe there is only one truth.
    So cheating is a way to liberty, and freedom. Schools often are means to preserve continuity and conservation. And on the other hand education could also be a way to freedom.

    1. Thanks for leaving a comment :)
      To me the type of teaching I experienced seemed to protect the power of the teacher. Not giving freedom to students to question may be was to perhaps protect the authority (teacher) from the stress of not knowing what to say or even admitting not knowing 'the answer'?