The eduhackers – a select subgroup of lifehackers?

I am a big-time fan of the whole lifehacking scene right now. If you’re not aware of this movement it’s because you probably think that the current zeitgeist is all about hipsters and eating avocado-based food off of roof tiles. Lifehackers don’t have a uniform look nor do they congregate in particular places, but they do recognise each other because they all believe in making themselves better people and having better, happier lives as a result – there are certain tell tale signs or ‘life hacks’ that are instantly recognisable such as:

  • Dabbling in the paleo diet – reduces inflammation and improves clarity of mind through bouts of ketosis (which is different from ketoacidosis – get your biochemistry knowledge right, people!)
  • Doing HIIT instead of hours of running – better for reducing fat, looking good and improving general health markers including mental health
  • Deliberate attempts to break bad habits – so as not to be a sort of slave or just weak 
  • Deliberate attempts to form good habits, knowing that the process involves hard work – aiming to become more efficient, productive, socially aware, knowledgeable, happy and intelligent
  • Continuously seeking new knowledge because it is interesting and it also helps you become a better person (also, the pursuit of knowledge is good for you too)
  • Experimenting with various forms of minimalist lifestyle – freeing up working memory for the bigger things in life like spending time with your family (example: only having 3 pairs of shoes so as to avoid cluttering the mind with having to make silly choices)

Lifehackers like to use the wisdom of science to inform their purposeful life choices and everything they do is about being a better person. Much of what they do I think is actually ancient wisdom (like a modern form of science-backed Confucianism), but repackaged with a bit of modern technology and sometimes pharmacology, verified by the scientific process. Lifehackers seem to be intelligent, curious, read a lot, open to judicious use of technology and also seem to be more likely to work in some kind of STEM field although it seems quite a few are architects (maybe they like ‘redesigning’ themselves?). They’re not too keen on Western ‘therapy’ which get its patients to question every relationship and analyse everything anyone has ever said or done to them (constantly looking for problems in everyone else), believing that it leads to dependence, self-obsession, blaming others. For lifehackers, it is better to make changes to lifestyle, habits and diets to subtly change brain chemistry as well as feel a sense of purpose and connection to the wider world. Lifehackers also, most importantly, know and live deferred gratification in their every day lives in order to make themselves mentally stronger, more resilient and because of this mindset, every trial and tribulation becomes an opportunity rather than something to feel sorry about oneself for. If you’re intrigued about this positive and empowering lifestyle, try these websites:

But be prepared to realise much of your bumbling twenties spent trying to ‘find yourself’ was not only a waste of time, but possibly seriously detrimental to your health and well-being.

Anyway, what’s all this got to do with education? Well, I think* that a sub-group of educators is gradually coming together and it seems that their collective thought processes are very similar to that of the lifehackers – I’m going to call this group of people the eduhackers because every decision they make is informed by cognitive science, statistically significant evidence and rational thought. Like the lifehackers, they not only want to be better, more efficient, productive and happier educators, but they also want children to learn as much as possible in the most efficient, productive way as well as develop good habits of thought and action that lead to happier lives as a result. Granted, ‘eduhacking’ doesn’t have the nicest ring to it, but the ultimate eduhacking establishment (hope they don’t mind my saying so) has got to be, hands down, Michaela Community School – they even eduhacked lunchtime just like the Japanese do in primary schools (I recommend you watch the video – they even think about the music they listen to).

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Non-eduhackers perhaps don’t understand what’s going on because they view everything, in various shades, through the prism of Western thought: everything comes naturally if you just wait for it, you must pursue happiness for happiness’ sake, your problems exist because of other people or ‘society’, everyone must be nice to you (even though you are not nice) and the world also owes you a living and a good time. This means that children educated by the non-eduhackers could potentially end up waiting forever to discover how to read or do maths, constantly expect ‘fun’ lessons, are allowed to be quite rude and inflict misery on others at the same time as being asked their opinion on the ‘effectiveness’ of their teacher.

For [an extreme] example of a non-eduhackers, he or she would see the whole ‘Get kids to serve each other lunch and say nice things to each other’ as being like a form of slavery, demeaning even, or that ‘forcing’ children to form certain habits such being able to queue in an orderly, quiet fashion is against children’s rights to ‘naturally’ form their own opinions and habits. Discipline? That’s violence, apparently, not a way to help children form good habits in order to be able to participate in society. Eduhackers know, because science has informed them, that little children aren’t always capable of making choices that lead to good habits, happiness or more knowledge and that they need to be, essentially, told what to do and given lots of facts by the adults (training the mind and habits) until they are old, sensible and wise enough to make well-informed decisions themselves.

So, I guess I’m an eduhacker.

Who’s with me?

*This means that I’m mulling it over in my head

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5 thoughts on “The eduhackers – a select subgroup of lifehackers?

  1. Ha…..interesting thoughts, thanks. I hadn’t realised Lifehacking was a thing, now I know. See why you put eduhackers in as a subset of that movement. Puts a different spin on everything.

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  2. I find the substance of what you say quite sensible and appealing. I am very sympathetic to this approach to education and am about to try it out myself to the best of my abilities.
    That said, I find your rhetoric patronizing and arrogant, your gratuitous polemic against ‘therapy’ (never mind that there are very different kinds for very different purposes/problems) being a case in point. More generally I find ‘Eduhacking’ is a terrible banner to rally under – the metaphor of education being like a computer program seems to me neither very apt nor very inspiring. Of course it’s not quite as bad as the term ‘lifehacking,’ but obviously that’s damning with faint praise.
    I am afraid that people who have not bought into the whole approach yet are not very likely to find it appealing based on your post. So the answer to your ‘who’s with me?’ is likely to be ‘those who were so already.

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    • I would say eduhacking is a metaphor to life hacking – in that you apply a ‘hack’ and things improve. ‘hack’ is part of our vernacular now and has evolved a totally different meaning to ‘hacking’ in the sense of interfering with computer networks

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  3. Having been raised in a household that subscribed to the new religion revealed by the blessed Sigmund Freud, who taught us that salvation could be found by gazing at our navels, I’ve long had an instinctive distrust of therapy. I’ll make an exception for CBT, which builds upon success rather than wallowing in failure and self-absorption. Sadly, there are many who would see education through the lens of therapy (ECM, anyone?), and this has evolved from the visions of progressive educators who viewed the mission of schools as one of redemption.

    As Michael Katz wrote in 1968, “[Progressive theory and teacher training] provided the mystery that would set teachers apart from the rest of mankind…The denial of responsibility for failure, the desire to gain control over entry, and the emphasis on proper preparation were all important strategies of occupational mobility; but none were as dominant, or basic, as the continual repetition of the absolute superiority of the teacher and his calling to all other men and jobs…the teacher was above money….In short, the teacher, God’s emissary, was responsible for the future of the human race”.

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