Testing, Testing

Here they sit, hundreds of them: lined up in neat rows, with a good meter of space all around each of them. Silently hunched over their desks: pen in hand, paper scattered over their desk. Adults walking up and down the rows, offering extra paper or pens, answering questions, ensuring silence, diligence, compliance.

It’s final exam time. In this room, hundreds of students. Around the world, millions. All earnestly, feverishly, worriedly, working at writing essays, choosing the correct letter, ticking the right boxes.

For what?

I’ve been a teacher for two decades, and I’ve been a student for even longer. I’ve taken plenty of exams and I’ve assigned and graded quite a few. And I really do not know why.

What is the purpose? What value is there in the process, the experience?

The only argument that I’ve ever heard that makes sense is that “the students need to be prepared for IB exams” or university exams. But that’s just an example of getting hit on the head lessons: the students have to go through a painful experience so that when they get the painful experience later on, they’ll be able to do it right.

Why do we do it? What’s it all for?

I honestly do not know the answer.


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