Saturday, 19 August 2006

Are exams getting easier?

Are exams getting easier? Whether or not they are is certainly not the fault of the people sitting them. But exams are now designed, not to test pupils, but to test teachers and schools. This has become so important that the poor pupils, and their parents if they are at all caring or concerned, are subjected to many years of examination instead of education. From the age of seven, every year until leaving school, there is little or no teaching in the third term. There is only revision for exams, and then the exams themselves, every year.

The view is inculcated that the only reason to read or learn anything is in order to pass an exam on it and obtain some sort of certificate. This is compounded when teenagers, having finished their exams, are simply given the rest of the term off. Apparently, if there is no exam on something, then there is no point in teaching or learning anything.

The “gender gap” is brought up every year. But if television news bulletins are to be believed, boys do not pass exams because they do not sit them. Nor, apparently, do any girls who would not be considered for careers in modelling or television. The theory is bandied about that, for example, the male brain does not cope well with complete texts such as plays or novels. Most of these (without even mentioning poetry) were written by men. But anthologies of short extracts are preferred, allegedly to appeal to boys. In fact, these anthologies are preferred because they are much less like hard work to teach or examine.

If boys really do better at final exams and girls at coursework, then we should examine everyone in both ways, and simply let the lower of the two grades be awarded.

No comments:

Post a comment