Pick The (Teacher’s) Best Answer

Exam Room (From Flickr)
Exam Room (From Flickr)

Two weeks ago, I wrote a midterm for one of my education classes. We were told it was a multiple choice exam consisting of 80 questions. When my class arrived at the exam we discovered it was a pick the best answer type of exam. Our professor stated that every answer was correct, but we were supposed to pick the “best” choice. Not surprisingly, hands up shot up around the room. “What if our best answer is not the same as yours?”, “What if we have a different opinion for that question?”, and a few other similar questions were asked by our class. The answer was simple: “Then select what you think I would choose as the best answer.”

Please tell me that  I am not the only one who sees a problem with this.  In a class where we are supposed to be establishing our own beliefs about education and beginning to determine how we will approach our careers as educators, we are supposed to be picking the answer that our professor feels is best?  How can I develop my own beliefs, if what I believe is marked wrong on an exam?

Correct me if I’m wrong, but wouldn’t a test like this only encourage students to learn their teacher’s beliefs and not establish their own?  Why not have an exam with either definite correct answers or one where you can justify your selection?

A test like this promotes students to simply tell their instructor what they want to hear.   Where is the critical thinking in that?  Aren’t we supposed to encourage students to think for themselves?

I recently did a lesson in my field placement where I showed and led a discussion around “A Class Divided”.  In this discussion, I learned just as much about the topic from my students as they would have learned (hopefully) from me. even though I had watched the videos on a number of occasions.  After I managed to get my students speaking their minds, I was shocked by how incredible some of their insights on the topics were.  Isn’t this how a classroom should be?  Shouldn’t students be constantly pushing their teacher’s to think more into their lessons?

I just find it extremely frustrating that we are learning to become teachers through methods that we should not be using.  I find that in many situations (not all) that these classes are not practicing what they preach.  This is just a minor example.

As a future teacher, how can I ensure that my students aren’t simply looking to please me?  How do I get them to think for themselves and create things that I would not expect?  What do you do to push students to dig deeper?

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Comments 3
  1. I agree so much with what you are saying. I am a middle school teacher who writes about this kind of stuff all the time.

    In short, I believe I have an answer for your question. Alfie Kohn’s books outline in detail how a teacher can become a caring ally rather than a judge in waiting.

    Jerome Bruner once said, students should experience their successes & failures nit as reward & punishment but as information.

    Kohn goes on to describe how working with children and doing things to children are two very different things. His books The Schools Our Children Deserve and Punished by Rewards are Essential reading.

    Check out my blog where I write about abolishing grades, rewards & punishment, multiple choice tests and homework.

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