"Great cycles of history began with vigorous cultures awakening to the needs of children, but collapsing with frayed family ties. Have we failed to learn lessons which Ancient China, Greece and Rome learned too late - about day care and death houses for old folks? Do we without protest accept accelerating preschool and nursing home cultures which warn ominously that the earlier you institutionalize your child, the earlier he will institutionalize you!" - Raymond S. Moore, Ph.D.


You cram for exams, then you forget it all anyway.
by SoulRiser

Exams are the final thing that are supposed to test how well you do in whatever subject, and your results will decide whether you pass or fail. Actually, it rather seems that what they really test is how much you can cram into your head at any one time.

Where I'm from, the final exam is the only thing that actually counts. The rest of your yearmark doesn't mean all that much. So you can work your ass off all year round, and come to the exam room after a really bad night, and you're screwed. Or you can loaf all year, and cram it all into your head a couple days before the time, and do reasonably well. There's obviously something wrong with the exam system. It's inaccurate - your marks could depend on how well you slept the night before, or how many other worries you have in your head. If you're unlucky in the exam, the rest of your yearmark can't really save you either.

Einstein had this to say about exams:
"I soon learned to scent out that which was able to lead to fundamentals and to turn aside from everything else, from the multitude of things which clutter up the mind and divert it from the essential. The hitch in this was, of course, the fact that one had to cram all this stuff into one's mind for the examinations, whether one liked it or not. This coercion had such a deterring effect [upon me] that, after I had passed the final examination, I found the consideration of any scientific problems distasteful to me for an entire year."

Exams don't test how much you "know", they simply test your memorizing skills. That's why some schools have extra classes that actually teach "effective learning methods" which are nothing more than methods of memorizing. Learning all the stuff taught at school might actually have been interesting if it wasn't forced on us, and made into a way of testing memory. If we could discover it for ourselves, and choose for ourselves which parts are interesting to us, and concentrate on those parts it would be great. If it was that way, school might actually be a place of learning like people keep assuming it is.

I've heard about a new system coming in that doesn't have exams, instead you just do lots of projects. Well, in a way that's good, in another way it's bad: good because it's a year-round thing which means there's no cramming, bad because it's a year-round thing and there's less chance of getting away with daydreaming in class, and I bet there'll be lots more homework too. The bad side of that will only apply to those who don't like school anyway, so that system will work perfectly fine if school itself was voluntary. If only...

Written by: SoulRiser
15 November 2000

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