This is not learning.

It’s currently the end of trimester and time for finals at my school.

Suddenly, all of the calm and motivated students I have taught this year have become something completely different.  Learning is out the window.  All they care about right now is what is going to be on their tests or final assessments.  The peace and order in my classroom has turned into near chaos with the looming final assessments.

I even have students in my classes where I’m not giving a final exam stressing out.  I’m not going to pretend to understand that one, but I can only imagine it stems from the stress overflowing from other courses.

They openly admit that all they care about is getting their desired grade.  They tell me they won’t sleep for the next week and they are clearly completely miserable.

It kills me to see my students being driven to this.

I don’t know why anyone would want to put this sort of unhealthy stress on a teenager.  If this isn’t a strong enough reason to reconsider whether we should be giving final exams to assess our students learning, I don’t know what will be.

This is not learning.

Photo Credit: thekevinchang via Compfight cc

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Comments 3
  1. Totally hear what you are saying. It drives me nuts, especially when the next semester starts and the only question I get is “what did I get on the final?”

    I wrote a similar post about five years ago, reflecting on how my own children felt about “finals”….

    1. Angus, can you share a link to that blog post? I’d love to read it.

      I just want one day where we can start a class with “what are we going to learn?” instead of “what do I need to know for the final at the end?”.

      I find myself trying to do a lot of deprogramming my students to their grades and encouraging learning and the process of actually understanding something. I continually assess homework with tons of feedback and no grade. They start to appreciate it and are excited to see where they can improve.

      Then finals comes around and it’s all gone. All that progress, all that work. I don’t know if it’s because of things happening in other classes. Or if all my “progress” wasn’t really progress at all.

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