Posted by on January 23, 2013

Failing Grade on HomeworkIt’s exam week at school, and I’ve already had to calm down several worried students. They didn’t do so well on their exams, and when I told them that it would be okay, they didn’t believe me. They even looked at me like I was crazy when I said, “It’s only a grade. The important thing is that you’re learning something.”

Personally, I hate taking tests. Have you ever thought it weird that we take tests for sixteen years of our life or longer, and then we graduate, and there are no more exams? Maybe we should all have an exam every few years just to make sure we’re still learning and understanding stuff. What would that be like? I don’t even want to ponder it.

I guess the reality is we do still have tests. We’re tested every day to apply the things we’ve learned. Though now when we miss a question, we might lose money, a relationship, a promotion, or even worse. Maybe I shouldn’t mention this to the kids yet. “Be glad you’re just getting an F. You fail a test in the real world and you could lose an arm!”

Tests are valuable. They show us what we don’t know, and it’s good to know your weaknesses. I never understood taking an exam and then never seeing it again. How do I learn from my mistakes if I don’t know what they are? Tests are a tool. They should never  be the end product. I’m a firm believer that as long as we are learning, then we keep moving forward. A grade on a test doesn’t decide this for us. We do.

I had a student recently say to me that she thought she’d failed her science exam. Instead of getting down on herself though, she stepped back and smiled and said, “It’s a good thing I don’t want to be a scientist!” I nodded my head and thought, she gets it. She’s learning valuable things about who she is and who she wants to be, and that’s far more handy than an A in science.

Maybe I’m off here. I work in the educational system, so some of what I’m saying might be seen as heresy. And maybe I’m taking the negative approach to tests. They also show us how well we’re doing and boost our confidence, and they are a way to measure progress.

What do you think about exams?

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