Relatively recently I went through my final exams and now many of my younger friends and my brother Alex are ending their 12 year school career by writing some papers that will define their lives.
I didn’t care much about exams when I was at school, in fact I hated them, I found them stupid. I never understood why all the excitement for learning, class participation, motivation, your attitude – why none of these things mattered in the end.
The UK is famous for its educational system yet I often wonder why. It is a system that relies on excellence in results at school to let you in. Contrary to many countries in Europe like the Netherlands and France who let students with different grades to be admitted and gives more people a chance.
So how exams kill education? Simple. They are more important than education, at least that’s how it is shown to us as students while we are at school.
Granted it took 2 years after I had finished school to appreciate the wealth of my education, I sit today and wonder – so what was it all about?
Was school trying to educate me? Was it about education? Were these 12 years about making me a better person, permitting me to think for myself, explore ideas – become a person with values and ideas…. Or was it a 12 year training for a 10 day examination period?
School becomes so exam-focused that it loses the point of learning, it becomes a training period. Students fear exams and forget to get excited about the subject.
My brother talked to me about the themes of the books he had to read. Just like me, he has read none, I never read a single book for the subject of L1 (Greek literature). Why? Because I was never told that’s what I had to do, I was never told something exciting about them, I did what I had to do, I learnt the themes, the motives, the type of writing, the authors biography – and I went, and I wrote, and I presented and I was done.
Then a couple of months later I read the books, and I haven’t stopped reading since. But then I had no exam to look forward to, it was just me and the author, and it felt good – without an exam at the end of the story but, yes, I could finally understand the pain of the author, the times of the author, the morals of the story, it was no longer titles and themes I had memorized in order to recall during the exam period, no, this time I was getting the story.