“We all have different abilities, thought processes, experiences and genes – so why is a class full of individuals tested by the same means?”
– Suli Breaks
To the Parents:
We limit our children and youth. We limit them by placing more importance on results than process, by educating based on a hierarchy of subjects essentially based in benefitting an industrialized economic system (where the most useful subjects for work are at the top) and by glorifying academic ability while, often simultaneously, stigmatizing non-academic ability.
More specifically with regards to results, we limit our youth by placing far too much importance on EXAM results. Our young people are judged and tested by how well they perform on exams with little or no consideration for the fact that not all people perform well in an exam setting. Period. Other students perform poorly because they simply aren’t learning. This is usually due to the fact that our rigid educational system doesn’t fit their learning needs. So why are they made out to feel like they’re stupid?
National exams were carried out here in Portugal at the start of the summer and many of the ‘do-overs’ (the retaking of exams) followed shortly after. Many young people have ‘failed’ to pass both times and will therefore not be allowed to enter university next year. They will have to wait for the next year to retake the exam(s) in hopes that they will then be able to join the ranks of the ‘educated’. We will lose some of these youth altogether and that is not necessarily because they won’t go on to earn a university degree. We will lose them primarily due to the grossly false notion that education requires high test marks only acquired between the four walls of a classroom.
We should reevaluate how and for what purpose we evaluate students. The overwhelming reason to make significant and meaningful change in all levels of education is that we (as a society) squander many of our children and youth’s natural talents and capabilities, especially if they don’t conform to the rigid structure that presently stands. We need to find innovative ways of assessing the progress of students… assessment based on their interests and talents rather than in the interests of others. We need to stop making exam results the high watermark of achievement. We need to stop making students feel dumb because they haven’t hit a mark that has little or nothing to do with their own reality.
To the Students:
Whether you ‘hit the mark’ or not, you ultimately need to take control of your education. Don’t let yourself fall victim to the same thing your parents probably did… commitment to a system that is predicated on the notion of success equaling the ‘right answer’ or ‘the right path’. Expand your mind. Don’t wait for opportunity to knock on your door. Seek the opportunity. If you need to wait a year for the next exam, self-educate. You may never get an opportunity like that again. The sources are out there…in books, on the internet, by working an honest job, etc.
As so aptly put by Suli Breaks, ‘We need to open our minds and educate ourselves that exam results aren’t the barometer of success and that we can’t let them decide our fate. We are in charge of our own destinies!’.
*Suli Breaks is a spoken word artist (a poet) who began to make a name for himself with his spoken word rap, ‘Why I Love Education, but Hate School’. The following YouTube links are for the both that poem as well as for his more recent poem entitled ‘I will not Let an Exam Result Decide My Fate’.- Open http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D-eVF_G_p-Y.
- Open http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y_ZmM7zPLyI.