Examinations good or bad
The news that mid-term exams have been cancelled in some primary schools recently has sparked quite a few controversies. Some people regard it as a big step in educational reform, while others question whether it is on the right track. Parents, teachers and students, the three parts involved, have all reacted a little bit pessimistically toward the new policy. Parents, always busy working to support their families, feel that they are losing an important quantified judgment for their children's behaviour or performance at school and are more worried than relaxed about their children's increased spare time. Most of them, I believe, prefer bookworms to idlers or addicts. Some parents have decided to pay more for after-school classes. Teachers, whose feet have been bound for a long time in teaching children, are beginning to lose their last control over the already spoilt students. How to check the teaching and learning effect? How to communicate with parents? How to keep students working hard to get good marks in the later, more important exams? Furthermore, maintaining their full work load, they are required to squeeze more of their meagre spare time to prepare additional lessons for "quality education". On the other hand, the suddenly liberated students have to find ways to fill their time. They delay homework and sometimes become addicted to computer games or just wander the streets. Adopting a bad habit is much easier than forming a good one. Objectively, the exam itself is not bad. It is a most effective measure of a student's knowledge, performance and ability. But people have made it into a disaster. Since when was our education caught in such a vicious circle? Textbooks have remained unchanged for many years and have become purely ornamental, while exam questions are changed from year to year. The only way to do this is to use more and more tricky questions. In fact, what we test our students on is much more difficult than what...
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