Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Have I ever mentioned how much I hate exams?

Later edit: for a far more eloquent look at this same subject from a larger picture perspective, please see Dave Snowden's post.

As you probably know, if you've been here for more than 3 nanoseconds, my elder son is in the throes of school exams. Yesterday, he walked out after the PE theory exam on a pink cloud. He loves PE and the jargon just trips off his tongue in consequence. He knows that stuff.

Today was statistics. All year, his stats teacher (the redoubtable Ms Verity who has featured here before) has told us how well he has been doing. How he just seems to 'get' stats. I was pretty sure there must be career ops for people who combine sport and stats (other than a bookie, of course!).

But it doesn't matter how well you do during the year. It doesn't matter how you perform in formative assessment. You can ace your mock paper. It matters not a jot. It all comes down to a single 90 minute exam... and he is certain he blew it. How can that possibly be right?

He was going great guns, thinking how easy the exam was and how he was going to romp through it, when the rope hit the rudder. About two thirds of the way through, he went blank. He just couldn't do the work. Nothing he had learned seemed to apply to the questions that were being asked.

Today's cloud was black, and he was under it, not on top of it.

I hate that a kid can pwn a subject all year long and then, in a fit of exam nerves, or because the examiner poses a question on a section the teacher glossed over, rather than one s/he majored on, the wheels can come off and it can all go to pot.

Of course, it remains to be seen how badly he really has done, but he is convinced that he has failed, and it has sent him into the Slough of Despond. He has a physics exam tomorrow. This is his worst subject, with his worst teacher (who is rather tellingly my younger son's worst teacher, too, and who has managed to worm his way onto my very short black list). How is he preparing? He is watching Futurama.

I am drained. If that elephant doesn't want to go up that hill, then it can flipping well sit where it is. I give up.

Mom out.


Rina Tripathi said...

I know the feeling, you can try revising the important sections with him. We do it here before exams, verbally go through question and answers and focus on the weak areas. The pencil, scale, eraser scene is same here!

Karyn Romeis said...

@Rina Unfortunately, he is now too old for me to question him on important sections. I haven't been involved in the details of his workload for a few years, now. We discuss the broad concepts from time to time, and he waxes enthusiastic about some of the topics, which is lovely, but his school work is his own to manage.

Bear in mind, also, that it is 30 years this year since I left school, and I was educated on a different continent. There is very little commonality between what he studies and what I studied. And, even when there is, he is expected to use a different methodology from the one I know.

My husband does discuss his maths with him, we both discuss physics and I discuss biology, anatomy and physiology with him. But only in the broadest terms. We couldn't begin to know what the examiners consider important.

I see our role as less to do with the work and more to do with the boy-who-is-nearly-a-man.