The Problem with Exams
June first--the last exam is today. There has been one exam every day since Monday, which seems as if it was an eternity ago. Every class at school requires homework, quizzes, tests, and finally, a final exam. We take exams to prove ourselves--to prove we have advanced our education during the past nine months. In one and a half to two and a half hours, nine months of homework, quizzes and tests must be summed up. How are the nine months summed up? Usually by a series of written questions that were probably compiled from the homework, quizzes, and tests we have already completed. There are better ways of proving knowledge.
First of all, no one looks forward to the week of exams. Some people look forward to noon on Friday, but not to the previous four days. Even the week before is dreaded. Stress has hit an eleven on the one-to-ten scale during the last few weeks. Stress is not healthy, and it makes everyone angry. The last thing I remember when I go back to school is exams. Is the school trying aversion therapy on its students? Of course not, but sometimes it seems that way.
I can remember middle school when we didn't have exams. The last weeks of school were enjoyable. In sixth grade history class, we watched "Spartacus" during the last week of school. This year, we read about Spartacus in history class, and I remembered many parts of the movie that gave me the advantage over students who had not seen the movie. I must be realistic, we cannot replace exams with movies (although they last about the same time), but there are other options. An idea I had that could be used for a history class was to make a week or two-week long game. Each day, students study a selected section of the year or semester. The next day, the teacher will form questions from the section and in class ask the questions in the form of a game. Of course, some students would not do the work and would just sit there, but there is no way they can zone out for an active game during class; they will learn. Math and science...