“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will spend its whole life believing that it is stupid.” – Albert Einstein
An education system that constantly examines anxious children through a number of standardized tests that promise to determine their academic credibility is indeed not the optimum approach to test them. The child’s ability to perceive and remember is being defeated severely by a conventional method that concentrates on teaching, and not learning. Children are isolating themselves from the material they are made to cram, because of the fear of failure, punishment, and humiliation. An intelligence-measuring-examination that sieves out the ‘more intelligent’ from the ‘less intelligent’, and further provides better education opportunities to the ‘more intelligent’, rather than focusing on grooming the ‘less intelligent’, is woefully incompetent. Wisdom and knowledge cannot be imparted in incarcerated schools and colleges; it needs voluntary listeners who are self-reliant and think for themselves.
In today’s time, education is being mistaken for memorizing subjects and not learning them. It has been reduced to a process where a teacher enters and delivers his lecture to his students, who remember whatever he taught only to regurgitate it all on a piece of paper. The vast reservoir of potential that a student possesses is clogged during the course of this process since they only remember the specific exam questions instead of the topic as whole. The curiosity to look for a different outlook or response on a certain concept is killed since the written tests require a single correct answer for the students to score good grades. None of the concepts is actually absorbed by them; rather their developmental capacities are slowly poisoned, leaving them highly dependent and passive. Gradually, students have succumbed to this system and started to study only the information for which they would be put to test; every other information is being overlooked as being insignificant. Volunteers of written tests contend that a formal setup needs to be in place and that examinations are an objective method of testing students. However, what they fail to understand is that examinations standardize the knowledge of students and take away the uniqueness that they have. Scoring low in such examinations may also prevent the student from being promoted to the next grade, thereby barricading his further prosperity. Constant comparison to their peers leads them to react to stress which hinders their learning, leading to an incomplete comprehension of subjects. Many proficient thinkers are lost when intelligence is restrained through written examinations that are constricting and defective.
The number of high school dropouts is growing every year. The manner in which examinations are structured impairs the critical and innovative thinking of the students since the whole idea of conducting examinations has been restricted to yielding good results. The education system is slowly morphing into a setup that prioritizes test results instead of the comprehension of knowledge and solely focuses on essential content and skills. The overemphasis on examinations as the principal modes of assessment is not in the right direction and surely does not encourage the students. Adding to all these factors are the target-oriented schools and colleges that put overwhelming pressure on their students to deliver good exam results so they can scale their earnings and occupy a favorable place on the list of best national/international colleges. Written tests force the spectrum of students into homogeneity, eliminating substitutive expressions of intelligence.
The nervousness and anxiety faced by the students because of the regular written tests should be discouraged. Change must be actively facilitated in the education system; alternatives in the form of new assessment methods must be developed that could possibly replace testing. Learning should be pleasant and not tiring. Methods such as memorandum or briefing, poster sessions, professional presentations, students-proposed projects, may be adopted. Frequent tests should be conducted rather than the semester or annual examinations so that students continuously practice their subjects. It is hence an unprejudiced opinion that written tests are not the best form of assessment for some students. It only creates stress among teachers as well as students and hinders their original thinking.
Indeed, we need an intelligentsia, who keeps animating us; who moulds us to become competent enough and always march forward in life. It is high time that we realize the need to widen our criteria, and not opt for the long-established route of identifying the talent of a child. Tools to explore a student’s ability must be devised that could eliminate their limitations. One needs to know the ropes to be able to fly; the artistry skills harnessed within the child need to be channelled in the right direction rather than merely running the rat race to secure safe institutions and selected line of work. The analytical, creative and inquisitive need to be encouraged; who shall bring out the magnificence and variety of ideas and logic in the society.(Published on 18th September 2017, Volume XXIX, Issue 38)