Three months ago, I talked about why homework is bad. But there’s a concept in our education system that’s even worse: exams. At the end of your days in school, you’ll have one or two exams. In America, you have what’s called “a final exam”. Here in the UK, you can have as many exams as the subjects you take that end with exams.
I am aware that exam season is in full swing, but I want to offer an alternative perspective, which sees exams for what they are: arbitrary papers that torture young minds rather than testing them.
Why? Let me begin with the most obvious reason you can think of. No teenager really wants to do GSCE exams. It’s just something they have to do. Not even I wanted to do all the revision that I did. I just had to. All those hours that could have been spent gaming or drawing characters were practically wasted on something that only matters because we made it matter.
Second, the grades won’t mean much if you don’t use what you’ve learned. I’m slowly forgetting some of the higher tier maths I had to do in Year 10 and 11 because I’ve never found a practical excuse to use it. I hardly cook now even though I want to. In fact, one of the only skills properly maintained is in the IT department.
Third, the process is pure psychological torture. Even the word has the power to turn a happy and cheerful person into a frustrated wreck. On top of that, the exam boards are blatantly sadistic, often asking to repeat a certain task. I’m also inclined to think that they’re idiots! I swear, I’ve had assignments in sixth form and college that have me explain things to them that even a seven-year old can understand.
Without exams, there’s no pressure to do better than everyone else. Without them, students can finally increase their knowledge on their own free will. They can grow up to lead rich and fulfilling lives knowing that nothing is in control of their destinies. Is that such a crime? Apparently our education system thinks so.
Besides, did it ever occur to the examiners that waiting until the end to assess overall knowledge is a terrible idea? If we want to keep tests as a whole, we should just stick to “end of module” tests after every module. That’s it. That’s all you need. Or we could go with my favourite solution: abolish exams and homework altogether.
I’ll be waiting for the Department for Education to do the right thing. If not, then everyone else will have to take action.