Let's pretend learning happens by heroics! Then it's up to my level of commitment and determination whether or not I learn something. It's my own fault when I don't learn it which conveniently lets others off the hook. All any educator can do is give me the content, assignments and grades to support my heroics. Learning is my job to do, my responsibility to take seriously and a linear process for me to make happen.
While we're pretending that learning happens by heroics, we can create big educational institutions. We assume that all these heroics need is some imposed organization to get everybody making the same progress and meeting the same expectations. That way, everyone will know where they stand in comparison to others. If more heroics are needed to meet standards, keep up with the pack or prevent falling behind, it will be obvious how those slackers can apply themselves.
Pretending that learning happens by heroics also blames the learner for every problem that arises. The system cannot be at fault or failing to provide some missing ingredients. The production of learning simply requires concentrated efforts. Considering social contexts, stress levels, legacy influences or environmental factors only makes excuses for the under performing heroes and heroines.
This pretense also dramatically simplifies instructional design. There's no need to be considerate of the learners' motivations, cautious of sending the wrong message, wary setting up a pattern of dependency or mistaken about the learners' contexts of use. All that's required is to cover the content with clear explanations and give tests to objectively measure the understanding of that content.
With so much in favor of educational institutions and the instructors in their employ, it's no wonder it's our mostly unquestioned paradigm that learning happens by heroics.