Thursday, April 25, 2024

THE OPEN HAVERSACK: The exam frenzy

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The long awaited primary exit examination is drawing nigh, the choice of schools forms are in, and some parents and teachers are beginning to suffer from “exam frenzy”. This frenzy puts unnecessary pressure on the students as parents “push” them to try to get into a “good school”.
The notion of a “good school” baffles me as I am one who believes that a school should cater to the diversity of the students who attend and all schools are good schools.
This good school syndrome seems to drive fear in the hearts of some parents, causing severe panic.
I am bemused because some parents expect teachers to become Moses and extend a rod, strike a rock and bring water from it. Suddenly, parents who were seldom seen attending meetings are bombarding the teachers with calls and visits expecting them to make “blood out of stone” because to them, these are critical times.
How sad that these parents have suddenly awoken and realised there is an exam. How unfortunate that suddenly the poor performances of their children are visible and now blame is cast on the teachers. The famous saying surfaces: “The teacher ain’t teach them nothing.”
It is unfortunate that for almost eight years of some children’s primary school lives, some parents pay little interest in their education but suddenly, they want to move the earth to please. Children can only produce the stored knowledge. Put succinctly, input equals output.
Some parents even insinuate that the poor performances of children are due to the lack of teachers’ motivation. Take note, the key motivator in any child’s life should be the parents. We live in a society whereby we like to cast blame.
Parents, step up and take responsibility for your children. Stop trying to leave the total education of your children to the school and teachers. Simple things like assisting with homework or teaching tables will go a long way. Parents should not allow the exam frenzy to cause them to cast blame on teachers.
They need to be cognisant that every step in the educational journey of their child leads to the end point – the exam.
Some teachers, too, are caught up in this exam frenzy and are teaching to the test. They are even trying to pack what should have been two years of work into two terms. It is also ridiculous that some Class 4 teachers are giving paid lessons four and even five days a week. Furthermore, some teachers in their frenzy will even deprive children of most of their upcoming Easter vacation as they try to pack in some last-minute work before the “big exam”.
Do not be mistaken; it is great that teachers want their charges to achieve, but please do not teach to the test. Teach to ensure that we are producing well-rounded and grounded individuals who can function effectively and make a significant contribution to society.
Do not allow the exam frenzy to cause children to feel pressured, but encourage them to give of their best at all times.
• Rhonda Blackman is an educator, a reviewer with the British Research Educational Journal and a member of the American Education Research Association.

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