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Today I was particularly annoyed during french. Last week we had taken a test that I had a feeling I was going to get an exceptionally good grade on. I received an 86% (which is actually pretty good for french). The thing that bugged me was the fact that I could have so easily gotten much higher (93%) if I had read the instructions more carefully. Now I admit that this was 110% my fault for not reading the directions and doing what I was supposed to do. I was more pissed at myself than anything else. The directions said to answer the questions, but I chose to translate them instead. Now my translations were perfectly correct, and if that’s what my teacher had asked for, I would have gotten 93%. Instead of giving me partial credit for this blunder, she marked the whole thing wrong, which may or may not have been fair.
The part that gets to me has nothing to do with french, myself, or my teacher. What bugs me is the tests. To start off, what are teachers asking for when they give us a test? Depending on who you ask, they are a) Seeing how well they are teaching you b) Seeing how well you pay attention and do your work c) Finding excuses to fail you d) Seeing your ability to cram.
Many of the tests I take fall into category d. And, in my opinion, they are the worst kind. I’d really like to know how many people could ace the same tests they aced two years ago if they were given no time to study. I doubt many people would do as well as they did. The current system measures your willpower to study and cram.
There are many kids, myself included, who never used to study and maybe still don’t. They paid attention in class, did their homework, and come test-day, they would know everything to ace the test. Well in high school, things have changed. With a 7 class, 8 hour school-day, its getting harder and harder to work like that.
Back to tests. What do they reflect on the student who took it? How gifted they are (paying attention etc.). I recently had an argument with Ian: Does everyone have the same potential? Is it really a level playing field for students? Can everyone get an A+ if they try hard enough? In my opinion, no. Some people just can’t do it. I don’t know if this is a fair comparison but here goes: If I tried hard enough, could I win a gold medal in the olympics? Not bloody likely. There is some inherent attribute that separates elite from the rest. These people have a much better chance of succeeding in life.
Again, I’ve digressed. Tests in their current state are bad. I suggest a bigger helping of projects. In the freshman debates, I learned more than any other 3 weeks of school. It was real-life experience. We had to cope with working in a team, deadlines, and still had math and english in the mix. We had to present speeches in front of large crowds, debate, and do research. That was a damn good project if you ask me. I think projects should account for a much higher percentage of your grade, where tests should be less. Tests just show the teacher how sticky your brain is. It is good to measure that, to make sure the curriculum is working, but should they really be 70% of your grade? It would be better to apply your test grades to the teacher, and have them get paid for how well their class is performing. Of course, what would be the motivation for students? What if the teachers got a lame class of dumb kids?
Grades are the key to success in life. Good grades = good college = good job = good life. Or something.. At your job, does it matter if you can cram? I wouldn’t think so. So schools aren’t preparing us well for the “real” world.” I should write a book… .