Marks and Grades: the Hanoi Rat Massacre, the ‘Cobra Effect’, and Education

Story time…

The citizens of Hanoi began submitting rat tails in abundance; but did that mean the project was a success?

Where do we see the ‘Cobra Effect’?

  • Employees striving to meet quotas to capture their bonus by using short-sighted tactics
  • Corporate executives using creative accounting to meet short-term and quarterly targets to appease the boards and shareholders instead of prioritizing long-term value and generating sustainable growth
  • And finally, students studying to get maximum marks instead of studying with the intent of learning and building a critical, thinking mind

The ‘Cobra Effect’ in education

So, what exactly is the ‘cobra effect’ in the education system? How do the incentives of marks and grades fail?

To conclude…

children, education and learning concept - sad student boy with failed school test at home
Education has been reduced to academic learning outcomes in the form of marks and grades



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Arnold Mascarenhas

Arnold Mascarenhas


Lokyatha is an education focused initiative to enable young adults to live better, more fruitful lives by delivering real world life skills.