Monday, November 8, 2010

Examinations and the Last Term

They should call the fourth and final school term of the year the lost term. It seems like there were only a few weeks of actual teaching. Already we are in deep into National Senior Certificate Exams with local exams to start on Wednesday. Following a couple weeks of testing, educators will spend another week on paperwork before schools officially close for the "summer" break. The learning process ceased long, long ago, but the school calendar continues for another month.

During the examination period teaching is replaced by invigilating, or proctoring for all you Americans. Generally I don't mind invigilating. Yes, it is exceptionally boring, but there is nothing tortuous about monitoring an exam, passing out scrap paper and facilitating the sharing of calculators, rulers and rubbers. The NSC exams, however, are awful.

Invigilators for these nation-wide exams must be appointed and are expected to attend a training session prior to the start of exams. I was appointed and attended the training, led by the principal in the library afterschool one day. It, like most trainings, was incredibly lengthy and mind-numbingly boring. Essentially, the trainees were read a list of the many things invigilators are not permitted to do during an examination, such as: eat, drink, chew gum, wear heels, sit down or stand still. These exans are often three hours long. Invigilators are permitted one break.

If the rules don't shock and horrify you sufficiently, picture this: a regular sized classroom crammed with three rows of writing tables, two lined up againts the walls with the third arranged in the middle. This leaves two narrow rows and some space near the blackboard for walking. Now imagine that you must remain in constant motion for several hours contained in that tiny space. If that sounds like something you would enjoy, you are more than welcome to hop on a plane, move to my village and come do it for me because it is just about the least fun I've had all year.

While generally I have found the classroom experience a bit less of a drag from the teacher's side of the desk, I find myself wishing to be a student during exam time. I would rather take the NSC exams than invigilate them.

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