Why the examination system is a failure and the need for a change in education
Few things are more dreadful than examination. Even the best among us cannot take them calmly. No matter how thorough our preparation ,our hearts sink as the examination draws near. Gone in our confidence and it is with a heart beating fast that we step into the examination hall. Indeed the old proverb that even gold begins to melt when put to the test fire is true.
Why are examinations such a terror? Perhaps because chance plays such a great part in them. The examination paper is like a lottery-uncertain and undependable. The element of uncertainty and surprise is bound to shake the most confident examinee. Sometimes our nervousness is so great that we seem to forget our best prepared lessons. Before the examination we feel sure of doing well, but once the question paper is before us, our minds become a perfect blank.We fail to recall our best prepared lessons. Some candidates even faint in the examination hall. The question paper springs upon us a complete surprise. None of the ‘sure hints’over which we have spent days and nights , appear in the paper. On the contrary , just those very topics, which we left out as unimportant and unexpected, stare us in the face. In Geography, we prepared the map of Europe but we are required to draw a freehand map of Asia and the question is compulsory. Surely, the fates and their friend , examiner, have played a cruel joke upon us.
Some people believe that we can control the tricks of chance. The moralizing teacher says that if we master every bit of the prescribed course, we can successfully face the worst tricks of the paper setter. But alas! this is easier said than done. The capacity of the human mind is limited, it is not possible to master everything. And even if it were, can everybody remember everything with equal freshness at one and the same time? Examinations do not require understanding as much as cramming. You may be intelligent but if your memory is poor, you are doomed. Courses of study are too large and manageable. Selective reading is necessity. But selection involves uncertainty, and an element of chance is likely to deceive us. Only a genius may master all the courses and take the examinations in perfect ease. To an average student, examinations will always remain a dreadful experience.
Examinations generally make or mar our lives. Though not a true test of ability, they put a seal upon us , which is impossible to change later on. We are classified for all time to come. We may be first class students, but if , owing to illness or any other accident ,we secure a second class , we shall forever be known as mediocre. On the other hand, those students, who obtain by hook or by crook a first class, go about with an air of superiority and attract attention they hardly deserve. The world cares not to see the real merit; it judges us by our examination results. People with academic distinction , deserved or undeserved , often begin life with an advantage, while their less lucky but abler companions are doomed to knocking about.
The truth is that the world is too much guided by examination results. We make too much of the “top boy”,little realizing that passing examinations is a knack which even second or third grade people can acquire. This knack is very different from real intellectual ability. But this important fact is often overlooked. Consequently, our entire approach to study is governed by examination. The examination becomes a God and we do everything to please him. We read subjects which pay in the examinations and not those for which we have a real taste. We study with an eye on the prize , the medal and not for the sake of real knowledge. The very purpose of education is thus defeated. The examinations do not bring out what is the best in us. In fact they place a false standard of values. Success in an examination is not sure passport for success in life. Some of the greatest men of the world were poor , or were indifferent students at school and college.