Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Despite all my rage I am still just a rat in a cage (Smashing Pumpkins)

We have entered the run up to external exams with the students doing their benchmark exams this week. 

By the time I retire from teaching I am hoping that we'll have evolved past putting students through external exams. I don't have a lot of hope, just a little.  
My problem with exams? They are fake fake fake!!! 

They remind me of an industrial model conveyor belt. At this time every year we push our students onto the conveyor belt that ultimately ends by cutting them into quality sorted sausages. 

Exams are a good example of a decision made long long ago that became a habit. This habit is a hard one to shake but in an era of personalised learning and flexible learning styles an old fashioned 3 hour writing exam seems more and more like a bad idea from the Jurassic period that needs to end.

This habit runs the risk of being increasingly counterproductive (and yes I know I'm now comparing my students to both sausages AND rats:
"As each rat learned how to navigate the maze, its mental activity decreased. As the route became more and more automatic, each rat started thinking less and less."
Exams (or more specifically NCEA English exams) have become more and more a game/ a maze that can be predicted and negotiated by students.

The wonderful work done in the internal standards - where students could explore their passions - is much reduced in the external exam so that students increasingly jump through hoops.

And then, there's the marking...

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