Monday, 17 January 2011

What is knowledge? ....and what is the point of exams?

This week I made the odd decision to abandon exams. I may seem like a quitter or some nonsense like that but I think I have reason. As a student teacher I have an interest in learning (doing it and in the concept) and don’t take these things lightly.

I went along to an exam the other day for a course I had been doing; The Social Uses of Language. It has been a very interesting and useful course covering topics such as English as a Lingua Franca, Language Planning and Policy and Language and Identity. There has been a lot of reading for the course, sometimes as many a 5 articles for a 90 minute class, but on the whole they have been well selected and thought provoking. The thought provoking part is the key to where I am going here. In Oulu, with our study journals and open book exams, I have become accustomed to the idea that it is not the knowledge in the books that is important when it comes to exams but the knowledge I create from the books; my thoughts, my reflections my connection, my questions, my (attempts at) answers. Bearing this in mind; when I looked at the exam questions which wanted me to reiterate the authors knowledge presented in the articles I was a little (re. hugely) unprepared. Don’t you want to hear my knowledge? Don’t you want to know my thoughts? I have so many. In the end all I wrote was a not saying I will have to sign up for the resit.

I came home utterly disheartened. I don’t take failure well. It didn’t last long though because like I said, I have lots of thoughts so it didn’t take long for me to think about this in a different way.

To pass the exam I would need to reread all 30-something articles again using a different lens; I would need to memorise the authors’ knowledge. But do I need to memorise their knowledge when I already have my own? The answer I cane to is “only if I want to get credits”. However there are other ways to get credits, and I will always have the knowledge that was constructed though participating in the course.

I have a new plan and I am very happy.

So yes, I have abandoned the exams, I am not going to spend the month of exam leave rereading articles and memorising data and (in the case of syntax) trying to understand things that I simply don’t get. Instead I am spending the month doing concentrated work on my thesis, and I am filled with joy. It’s new and exciting and thoughts are rushing around in my head and it hurts because with a/r/tography, even the way of thinking is new and my brain is trying to resist, yet I’m inspired. I have dug out my sketchbooks but still trying to get over my nerves and make he first marks on the pages.

1 comment:

nāj āγi said...

Being an insider in the system doesn't help you an awful lot either, I got 3. (I wrote nothing to Suszczynska's question.)

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