Sir Ken Robinson points out that there are three things unique to humans which must be considered in every system of education no matter what country or culture.
Firstly “Humans are naturally different and diverse” – Sir Ken Robinson. He goes on to warn that many education systems concentrate on conformity rather than diversity and he is wary of too much standardised testing. The traditional exam, testing your memory in a closed book test with a time limit seems to be archaic now when you have Google in your pocket. I understand that if you are qualifying to be competent in administering CPR, I don’t want you looking up the manual while I’m expiring on the floor. If I am in a Qantas jet approaching Mascot airport I don’t want my air traffic controller saying “Wait a minute while I check to be sure that other aircraft is where it’s supposed to be!” That kind of testing still has its place but otherwise it seems to be coming more and more irrelevant.
Many years ago before Google, my son came into my study asking for the encyclopaedia CD. I asked what he wanted it for. I’ve got an assignment on Christopher Columbus. Off he went to his room. Voice echoing up the hallway “Hey Dad how do you spell Christopher?” followed in predicable sequence with “Hey Dad how do you spell Columbus?.” The network printer in my office clattered away, he arrived swept up the pages off the tray “Can I borrow your stapler?” Click Clack and he threw the pages in his school bag heading for the door. “Wait a minute, aren’t you at least going to read it?” “Nah, they want to find out about Christopher Columbus I don’t. If I ever do I’ll come back and get the CD.” That primitive teenage logic was difficult to deny. I did get him to consider the question “Every man and his dog as far back as the ancient Egyptians has claimed to have discovered the Americas, how come Columbus got the tick of history?” After some discussion and CD searching we concluded it was because he was the only one to establish a lasting settlement. Even though we have learned since they had to eat of few of the other settlers in order to survive.
If you ever wanted a convincing argument for abandoning the age old final exam, closed book and three hour time limit you only have to look what happened at the university entrance exam or “gaokao” in Beijing last week. The unwritten law apparently is everybody cheats. Last year they discovered 99 identical papers in the one subject. Authorities decided it was time to crack down.
“When students at the No.3 high school in Zhongxiang arrived to sit their exams this month, they were dismayed to find that they would be supervised by 54 randomly selected external invigilators.” – Malcolm Moore
An “Invigilator” now that’s a term with pause for concern. I swear I had one of those trying to kill me in a computer game once. Well these invigilators used metal detectors to discover phones and cheating devices deep down in the underwear. Wi-Fi earpiece linkups to dial a friends in buildings across the road. Some cheating devices were disguised as normal pencils or pens and other seemingly harmless and normal examination accessories. Nothing it appears was what it seemed. Female invigilators did strip downs and pat searches of all the girls.
When the crying students distressed from being stopped from cheating, told their parents on leaving the exam room there was a riot. Teachers and invigilators were trapped, besieged and showered with curses and rocks. The teachers were appealing over the internet to be saved. ”We are trapped in the exam hall,” wrote Kang Yanhong, an invigilator, on a Chinese messaging service. ”Students are smashing things and trying to break in.”
Outside, more than 2000 people had gathered, smashing cars and chanting: ”We want fairness. There is no fairness if you do not let us cheat.”
Because everybody cheats being stopped cheating was putting these 800 students at a distinct disadvantage, the enraged parents claimed.
It is true, it isn’t fair if you can’t cooperate, collaborate, question and inquire. It’s how you do it when you are anyplace else except in an exam.
I have yet to be in a workplace where someone said, “You have to go over there sit alone, do your job alone, just you and your memory, don’t ask anybody anything and don’t even think of looking anything up. Your time starts now.”
- Chinese students and families fight for the right to cheat their exams
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