Exam Time – and a bit of an educational rant

So it’s that time at my school…finals week. That’s why I haven’t been posting as much. Lots of studying, paper writing, project finishing, you know — all that good stuff that comes with being a student. But in the midst of all of this, there’s something that bothers me, deep down, about how the university model of education currently works.

You go to class, you sit down, you take notes. You take a test. You write a paper. You do a project. You give a presentation. You do homework. What’s in common with all of these? They’re all graded in some way. I understand that grades are important for evaluation of student progress, but sometimes it seems as if students are working FOR the grade, not necessarily to learn something new. School (and learning) should be enjoyable, and should foster a curiosity and love of learning that creates innovators and creators to shape our world. Unfortunately, most people see school as a chore, and this is unfortunate.

I’m a firm believer that independent projects and research that one is actually interested in is one of the best ways to learn. There should be more student direction rather than professor direction in our courses. Professor feedback rather than a numeric grade would be much more helpful. Of course, I know that’s not necessarily feasible in large classes, but still, I wish that school was more oriented toward learning rather than fulfilling a set of requirements. That’s what it is supposed to be for, right? Learning.

A recent example I remember is in my astronomy class a week or two ago. My professor was talking about relativity, and it was really fascinating stuff. I was enthralled. Someone from the back row (you know, the ones that usually pay half attention or sleep) raised their hand to ask, “Um, is this going to be on the test?” While I suppose that is a valid question, I wish everything didn’t have to be so test-oriented.

I know that there are classes that we all take that we’re less than interested in, and I feel like that’s another flaw in the system, another way to just “check off requirements” so we can graduate. But alas, such is the way things are. There’s not much one can do, I suppose, but fill their silly requirements and try our hardest to keep that curiosity alive, even when our “education” seems dull as hell.

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