With exam season around the corner, most of us are hassled, worried, and over-worked. As we work over previous years’ question papers, guides and reference books, resentment for the current examination system, which values rote-learning over knowledge emerges from within.
It is the month of November, which in Delhi University and across the country means end-semester examinations. And as students all across mug up facts and numbers, drink endless cups of coffee and pull all-nighters and neglect their physical, mental and emotional health over an examination, we experience a strong sense of disappointment over the current examination system that reduces our value to a number.
The current examination system has quantified knowledge and has attempted to make intelligence and proficiency more measurable. As a consequence, the number that is aimed to signify our proficiency in a particular subject- say marks, percentage, or Semester Grade Point Average (SGPA) has now become the end-goal. Marks are not a marker of what we have learned the whole semester; it is now the end result. The desire to know more and our curiosity and creativity have died in this quest to score more.
But quantifying learning is not the biggest problem that the examination system has given birth to. The problem with the examination system is that it is part of a system. By methodically creating a process which shall evaluate and determine the worth and capabilities of students and their learning, a specific structure/pattern has been created that ought to be followed and respected. As a consequence, students take the pressure of scoring certain marks and working tirelessly to achieve a particular result. Consequently, the focus of education has shifted, from innovation and learning to score. Students in college are under the pressure to maintain their scores rather than thinking of creative ways to expand their horizons of knowledge.
The problem with creating a system is that there will always be people who will think of ways to cheat the system. In the context of students, this refers to students who do not read the prescribed and suggested text and readings but instead prepare specific questions and notes that will help them sail through the exams. These “hacks” so to speak, of evading the exhaustive process of going through the entire syllabus is used by majority of the students and the practice of “selective studying” or “smart-work” is preferred. As a result, students end up getting good grades in subjects which they know little about. This problematic habit of cheating the system has become so ingrained in our minds that even students studying subjects like English literature and history do not go through all their novels and readings as well but instead learn certain answers and critiques by heart and copy them out on their answer sheet. The romanticism in studying is now lost; it has now become a soulless process meant to ensure a certain grade. We are witnessing the demise of education. As countries across the world make education more and more objective, measurable and quantified, the soul of the process of learning is slowly dying out and no one will bear its brunt, apart from students.
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