Exam season is here to stay

Exam season is here to stay
Here goes my first blog ……It is that time of year again, the exam season when students (we are all students of something) sit in a room with a wobbly desk and hope that what they write in the next 2/3 hours bears some resemblance to what the examiner wants.
Believe it or not some people actually like exams; they enjoy the challenge and how they feel when doing them. That sensation of control and an “ask me another one” mentality that is only really enjoyable when you know the answer. They are in a way showing off, if not to others at least to themselves. Then there are other people who don’t like exams, but enjoy the study ,the learning but not the actual exam. They get a buzz from the discipline of knowing what they have to do and learning something new. For them it is a measurable form of achievement, they are not learning for a reason other than a “today I learned something that I did not know yesterday” feeling, they have a mindset that finds almost anything “interesting”. They are curious about everything.

And then there are the rest of us who don’t like examinations, don’t know everything and don’t wake up every morning wanting to learn something new, yet need to learn new things in order to stay a float in the modern world. Maybe exam success will bring a promotion or get you through the door for that all important interview. Or is it the status the qualification brings which will not only earn the respect of others but build self confidence. Whatever the reason exams are here to stay.

And so to the point, no one is born knowing everything and neither are they born with a sense of wonder and a desire to learn. They have just found that if they are curious then they are more likely to learn and if they feel good after getting a question right it, is more likely that they will want to get another one right so will work harder as a consequence. Don’t forget the person who knows the answer had to be sufficiently motivated to learn the answers in the first place, yes perhaps they find it easier to learn, perhaps they are able to pick things up quickly but they still had to learn it.
So if you have to take exams or have a need to continually learn perhaps it would be a good idea to be a little more curious and to take pleasure from knowing the answer because if you do it makes the whole process of learning and passing exams so much easier, which in turn might help with that next promotion, now that cant be a bad thing….

Things that made me think
I like Lucy Kellaway who writes a column in the FT. She often pokes fun at the business world which as I am sure she would freely admit is a very easy thing to do. However she recently wrote an article “underdog tale sheds light on pushy parenting” click

In it Lucy argues that although inspiring stories exist of the underdog winning, they are few and far between, or as Lucy put it “its claptrap”. She states that there is even more dominance by Oxbridge and private schools of the professions than ever. This she argues is the reason that pushy parents are perfectly rational to obsess over the qualifications of their children.

Now you will not find me arguing that exams don’t matter but the implications of what Lucy is saying is that unless your child is reading by the age of two, then there is little chance for them in this world. This is not only depressing and uninspiring but also suggests that the world in which we live is logical and that a path once started upon cannot be varied and it becomes inevitable what will happen.

Yes of course Lucy has a point, if you are born into a family who are supportive, push you hard and have both the money and time to do this, then on the whole you are more likely to do better than say someone with less advantages. But this apparent inevitability denies the role the individual plays in all this. It is what you do, given where you are and the skills/attitude you have that makes the difference not where you come from or what your parents did to help. And although Derek’s (Read the article) success may in fact be unusual, it is inspiring and does prove that you can achieve the unusual and so by definition making it, if not the norm, a possibility and one that might inspire others to follow.

So in a world of the first Black American president, where your money is no longer as safe as houses and Susan Boyle did not win Britain’s got talent, maybe there is a chance for us all.

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