On the day Kiyotaka arrived, I gathered Suzukake and the other researchers.
“Ayanokouji-sensei, this is the curriculum for the fourth-generation students who’ll be starting this year.”
Tabuchi operated a computer with dark circles under his eyes.
I looked through the materials projected on the big screen as he explained them to me.
When Suzukake was chosen to lead the second-generation students, he created a curriculum with 10 difficulty levels.
This time, the fourth-generation students will be given a difficulty level of 4.
“The dropout rate for those who are five, the first-generation, is 14%; the dropout rate for the second-generation students, who’re two, is 6%; and the dropout rate for the third-generation students, who’re one, is currently 6%. It’s predicted that more than 20% of second-generation children will drop out by the age of 5, and more than 25% of third-generation children will drop out in the future. We’ve been raising the difficulty level in stages, but we’re taking it a step further for the fourth generation.”
The higher the level of difficulty required of the children, the stricter the passing line will naturally become. In particular, Suzukake's curriculum is structured in such a way that the difficulty level increases drastically after the children reach the age of six—when their foundations have been solidified.
It wouldn’t be surprising if the first-generation’s dropout rate also increases rapidly in the future.
“In fact, how much will change by continuing to increase the difficulty level?”
“We only have three data references, but even if we compare the first and third generation’s abilities at the same age, the lowest performing students increased by 11% and the highest performing students increased by 37%, respectively. This proves that the educational method proposed by Suzukake-san is connected to the improvement of human abilities.”
The research so far seems to be going well.
If we continue to educate our students in the right way, we’ll eventually be able to produce children who’ll be incomparable to the first generation.
However, it’ll take many years to achieve this.
“There have also been some significant changes. As a typical example, we’ve analyzed the dropout’s aftermath and found that there were some problems. One is the extremely low ability to adapt to society. The reason for this is already clear—it’s due to the fact that they’ve lived 99% of the time only in the White Room. In particular, first-generation students understood the outside world only through materials’ and pictures’ fragmented depictions. It’d be impossible for them to imagine and draw cityscapes in their minds. The second and third generations showed some improvement as they began to learn through the use of images, but they lacked the everyday knowledge that Japanese children should have. Vending machines, streets, shopping malls, convenience stores, and supermarkets in the city, and their lack of recognition through hands-on experience caused a great deal of discomfort to outsiders. They may remember them in words and letters, but without actual experience, a natural response is impossible.”
“So? What's the solution?”
“It’d be easier if we could take them out of the White Room, or to put it more simply, to have some kind of extracurricular activity, but of course, that's not going to happen. The more people we have outside the White Room, the more we run the risk of the public knowing about the facility, and the impact that has on young children is immeasurable.”
Ishida continued his explanation and pulled out a pair of large goggles.
“That's where the virtual console comes in. Using VR, children will be able to travel, learn, and memorize anywhere, at home or abroad.”
Souya followed in agreement.
“Ishida-san's idea isn’t bad. It’s great that they’ll be able to virtually understand the minimum common sense that they should learn. Even if it’s in a virtual space, it can be imprinted as an experience by walking around in a perfectly reproduced world. The structure is the same when we go out into the outside world, so I think our adaptability will be much better than ever before.”
It's a small price to pay for such a facility where you don't have to go outside.
I agreed and approved the additional budget.
“The content of the curriculum seems to be fine.”
Tabuchi nodded in satisfaction, and Ishida and Souya stood up as well.
“I don't mind if we use the virtual console. You can attempt anything else you want to try. But I would like to have a different curriculum for this fourth generation.”
“‘Different’, sir? What changes would you like me to make?”
I glanced at Suzukake, who had been sitting quietly.
“We are adopting the Beta curriculum.”
I told him, and the researchers tensed up.
“...Huh? What did you... just say?”
Suzukake was probably the most surprised of all.
“I said we are going to adopt the Beta curriculum. Don't make me say it again.”
Suzukake created a curriculum with 10 levels of difficulty.
Compared to third-generation students, it’s natural that the curriculum will be more rigorous and thorough upon birth, but the difficulty level increases significantly after age six when the foundation’s being built. Even I, who don’t know much about education, judged the Beta curriculum to be unfeasible in light of the first-generation children’s limitations and discarded the Beta curriculum.
“I explained to you at the time that we had created a curriculum with 10 difficulty levels, but the Beta was a different dimension that would never be reached. In effect, we considered the fifth or sixth level to be the limit of human development.”
“I’m sure of that. It’s impossible to even compare the second and third-generation curriculums to the Beta curriculum. The current curriculum up to the third generation isn’t easy to follow, and the results aren’t remarkable at all. In such a situation, bringing up the Beta curriculum would only destroy the sample material…”
“I know that it’s necessary in research to increase the difficulty little by little. But it takes time to climb up the stairs a single step at a time. I would like to see the human limits this one time in the White Room. I don't care if they all drop out.”
“Of all the times… with your son here?”
“My son is the one who will receive the most rigorous education. This is a great opportunity. If we can create even one success in the Beta curriculum, it will lead to future research.”
“...But what kind of criticism will I get from our supporters?”
“That's why I said I would adopt the Beta curriculum for my child's generation. It's for the sake of research. Feel free to tell me, and I don't care if he dies.”
Everyone, including Ishida and the others, were stunned and speechless.
“Really… Are you sure you want to?”
As a researcher, Ishida may be eccentric, but he hadn’t strayed from the path of humanity.
That's why he was so aggressive with me, but he must’ve realized that this was my decision.
“Yeah. The next fifth-generation students will be assigned the level four curriculum that was supposed to be assigned to the fourth-generation students. The fourth generation is the only exception. We can't easily implement an inhumane curriculum when there’s no future in sight.”
It wouldn’t be too late to change the curriculum after all the fourth-generation results are in.
“I've prepared a reasonable sample of children for this one session.”
I show them the list of the children who’ll be in the fourth generation, which I had kept secret up to this point.
“This is—74 in all! That's more than twice the number of kids in the third generation!”
“Almost all of them were picked up from the ‘have-nots’ so that they can be used and discarded.”
The Ohba group and the black market brokers connected to them aren’t cheap, but a big sample is always better than a small one. I hope these people have understood how serious I am. In reality, however, only a few of the “have-nots” are children of businessmen. They must be dreaming of great growth in a harsh environment. They took the offer without any responsibility. However, I’m not telling the researchers which of the children belong to families of businessmen. I don't want that to get involved in any way.
Suzukake, who had been listening in silence, walked up to Ishida and the others who were reluctant to join the meeting.
“I myself have come to understand many things since I started working with Ishida-san and the others. There are certain lines that one must not cross as a human being, to the point that I regret having created the Beta curriculum. I can only see the results of the collapse, but still, as long as Ayanokouji-sensei insists on doing it, we are obligated to carry it out.”
“As Ayanokouji-sensei said, this is a special case. It’s also a great opportunity for me to reject the reckless curriculum that I myself have created.”
Suzukake has grown up a lot over the past few years as he continues to be a leader.
They constantly clash with each other over the content of their research, but in the end, Ishida and the others nod their heads in agreement, acknowledging Suzukake's enthusiasm and determination.
“It's my responsibility to be the one heartbroken, and I'll be thoroughly involved in the education of the fourth-generation students.”
As a representative of the White Room, I should be there to witness the results myself.
“...I understand what you’re saying. Of course, I will follow your instructions. But first, may I make a suggestion on how to deal with the dropouts?”
“What do you mean?”
“To be clear, the dropped-out children’s abilities far exceed those of ordinary people. I'd say that's a good accomplishment. It's too good to throw away…”
“At what success level are you talking? Do you think our goal is to get into a top university or to win some random competition?”
“No, that's not–”
“That's fine on the surface. But the real purpose is completely different. To protect this country from the world, to make this country strong, and to create people who have the power to run this country.”
There’s no way to create mere honor students who can succeed when sent over to politics.
What’s needed is the ability to outperform others.
A person with an unyielding, unshakable will of steel.
Only those described by others as monsters can make a breakthrough in this current corrupt political world.
“The well-known dropouts are carefully cared for and returned to their parents. As long as they have extraordinary abilities, they will be somewhat satisfied.”
“...And what about the nameless children?”
“As planned, send them to the facility we've set up and let them run wild. Of course, they'll be trained not to talk about the White Room.”
“However, it will be very difficult for them to become independent and integrate into society.”
“So what? We educated them. They may have problems, but they're still better than their peers. They have every chance to rise above them. Do you have a problem with that?”
Tabuchi is the only researcher who strongly believes in the general idea, and he is the only one who is resistant to it.
That's why we have to give him a firm warning.
“Shut up and follow my orders. If someone disobeys my orders, I will cut them off without mercy, even if it’s you. Is that clear?”
“Yes, sir. Excuse me, sir.”
A cell phone rang. It was Sakayanagi.
“I'm going to be out of the office for a while… We'll continue our discussion, including how to address the Beta curriculum.”
I went out into the hallway and answered the phone as the door closed behind me.
“What's wrong, Sakayanagi? You seem very gloomy.”
“I didn't want to contact you like this, but I heard that your son’s been born.”
“Oh, I'm sorry I haven't been in touch. Things have been a little hectic.”
“...Are you sure you're okay with this? Your long-awaited son?”
“This is what I had in mind when I decided to create the White Room. I don't think that a man who educates abandoned babies can have a proper family.”
“But that's a bit of a leap, isn't it? The babies in the facility come from unfortunate backgrounds, having been abandoned. They are rather happy to be able to grow up in the White Room without any problems. But your son’s different. He deserves the love of his father and mother.”
“I've already made my decision.”
On the other end of the line, Sakayanagi gasped.
“I'm sorry to do this over the phone, but I have one thing to ask of you.”
“You're going to have a baby soon. I'm ready to accept your child if you need me to.”
“I'm not as strong as you. I can't be as strong as you. For the sake of our unborn child, my wife and I will raise it with all the love we can muster.”
“I see. I knew you would say that.”
If it’s Sakayanagi, an excellent child with a legitimate education will be raised.
Will that be one of the achievements that I personally look forward to?