Saturday, November 22

This is not a complex instruction to follow.

This last week has seen Sir taking on the role of exam supervisor at the Senior Campus of the Salt Mine. Loading 700 plus Yr 10 students into a gymnasium stuffed with single tables and single chairs in 30 by 20 rows is a mean feat, a toughie in any one's books. Up goes the starters gun.

We provide out students with a quality education that gives them experience of examinations from Yr 7 to Yr 12. The theory being that the young ones will grow accustomed to sitting exams and therefore perform better in their Senior Year. Poppycock. The practice shows that instead, most students but especially boys, experience a mental meltdown twice a year. This is their experience of educational preparation. Desperate stubbly young faces searching mine for any sign of contact with humanity in the sterile conditions of tertiary examination practice.

The the exam begins. Certain teachers are rostered on for exam duty. Certain teachers patrol the exam hall like hawks, looking for any sigh of movement outside the expected behavioural sphere... which is, well... small. Sir feels a little like a grown up child, wanting to scream "stop moving about, for god's sake! Can't you see the child is already having an out of body experience?''. Ten heavy pairs of teacher feet clump up and down long rows, watching pencils dart across paper, eyes seeking confirmation, questions being asked driven by the need for a vocal conversation removed from the intense looping panic dialoge inside 700 heads.

It ends. Papers are collected and collated. 1400 weary eyes exit the hall and scurry off... somewhere. Home, the local shopping hole, to parents waiting in cars, back home to the X Box. 700 audible sighs of releif. One shakey Sir. Anger engulfs her for the injustice of this phoney experience. Sir never liked exams and was a good student. Sigh.

Injustice in this system refers to the exam experience as just that. An experience. Students at the Salt Mine are not required to pass said examinations to pass a subject sucessfully, yet they are required to sit the exam to meet the requirements of the school year. Promotion panel discussions revolved around preparation for the said event... an excrutiating cross examination of a failing student's ability to show their engagement with the school community and curriculum. Or no engagement as the case often will be. The pain for the true educator is why such an emphasis on a false positive experience? Sir struggles to see the point of trying to mould new generation sparkies, plumbers and hairdressors into examination machines... and will struggle for many years to come.

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