Exams. Let’s just think about all the ways that exams cause stress. First there are the exams themselves. Imagine you are an eleven year old, faced with a set of exams. Just that should be enough to make most people freak out – six exams, testing you on everything you’ve done in a month. Then there are the teachers. The teachers who encourage, cajole, demand that the students study/review/get everything correct. And finally there are the parents. True there are some parents who do not put any pressure on their children, however that doesn’t stop the child applying their own personal pressure – a desire to achieve the best so that they can make their parents proud of them. And those are just the obvious pressures and stresses facing the students in the 6th grade (and throughout the school), without dragging in peer pressure, grandparent pressure, and pressure from the world in general. Now, in sport, when a race is run, a game is played, something is achieved, there is a huge release of pressure. Sportsmen get to run around, shouting and screaming and celebrating. Students? Well, when the exam is finished, they just get to sit in a desk and learn more stuff. It becomes a very difficult balancing act for the teacher. How much more pressure do you put on your students? How much new stuff do you cover?
Personally, I look at finished exams, I look at results. If the results are good, if the exams are being completed correctly, if students are achieving their full potential, then I feel that they are being stretched, they are learning, and there is no point piling on more (added) pressure, by introducing new concepts. The students are mentally straitjacketed. All they are concerned with is “the results of today’s exam” and “tomorrow’s exam“. They have no interest (or space in their brains) for new concepts – concepts that could be crucial to their understanding of the whole of the next month’s topics.
With me so far?
This is why today was Easter Island Day in 6A. We did the science exam in the morning. There was a P.E. lesson, a Spanish lesson, a quick run through yesterday’s English exam, a review for tomorrow’s History exam, and the rest of the day was devoted to Easter Island. The true story of Easter Island is one that I think is worth hearing and understanding. It is the story of an island paradise, that was so wonderful that when 20 Polynesians washed up on the island 1400 years ago, they were able to create a society that numbered over 12,000 in one thousand years. Of course, the fascinating thing is that within the next 100 years, that society crumbled. When the Dutch discovered the island (on Easter Day – hence the name) there were less than 100 people living there. They had descended into war and cannibalism. Why? Because they didn’t Reduce/Reuse/Recycle. As simple as that. I believe that the story of Easter Island is a warning to us all. So, I took the chance today to tell 6A all about it. We watched:
and the other three parts of this documentary. We talked about how it happened, why it happened, and could it happen again? True, they might never get asked about Easter Island in an exam, but I like to think that they have learnt something interesting about the world today. Oh, and I didn’t have to spend the whole day demanding that they “sit down and listen“, so that was a bonus!
Tomorrow is late entry! But not as late as it used to be!! Gates open at 8:30am. History exam will be first thing. It never ends…until Monday, when the Geography exam will be the last one. [Until the next one.]