For real or for show

Since she’s doing school at home, Veronica has learned something very grownup: computers can be wrong. Mostly, they have been wrong in ways that count against her. Last year she learned the heartbreak of submitting an assignment and it did not

In fact


The world is a little less reliable now that she knows this.

While walking the dog, I asked her:

Which would you rather have:

To learn something, and have the knowledge, but not get the credit


To get the credit but not have the knowledge

The TV series Suits starts with the main character making his living by cheating for hire on the bar exam. He knows it, but has been expelled for cheating. But he gets a job as a lawyer by further faking a graduation.

The show is filled with tension about who and when will find him out.

But I wasn’t worried about whether he can do the work.

I felt pretty sure he was going to get caught, but not that he wouldn’t have the knowledge.

Is some knowledge easily acquired on the job? Can you fake It until you make it?

Veronica had another view. She said, “Mommy, I know what you would say, but there are social consequences to getting bad grades.”

Her concern was that should would lose social standing by not having good grades.

Sometimes knowing something is less important than people thinking you know. This is probably reliably true in 6th grade.

My husband says that’s all fine and good but if it’s on the line—like knowing how to fly a helicopter—faking it will not serve.

We have created standards that the interweaving systems of our society rely on. There are construction standards that require the wall to be able to support 5 times the weight of whatever is fastened to it. That leaves enough margin for error to be reliable. Our certified doctors and plumbers have to have a broad range of skills to be certified.

It depends, I think. I find great joy in learning even if it is not for credit. And yet, the social standing and the recognition are valuable and worth fighting for. Most of the time.

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