(scene: Student standing at the front of Professor’s office. Thinking about knocking.)
Professor: Come in. Take a seat.
Student: Thank you. How are you Professor?
Professor: I’m doing well. How are you? You seem a little bit disturbed. How may I help you?
Student (bit nervous) : Yeah! You are right. I am. It’s the end of the semester and also the course. I really want to thank you for doing a great job in teaching some really difficult concepts. But… But. I came here to talk something that I am really unhappy about, somewhat different if you are interested. I respect your time.
Professor (With smile in his face, stood up, moved the curtain to allow more light through the window into the nicely arranged well-scented room full of books in the shelves and some green plants in the corner, came back, took a seat in a more relaxed mood and smiled) : Yes. What is it?
Student (now bit confident) : Though I am a big fan of your teaching style in class, I am quite disappointed with the evaluation process. Actually.. I am upset with not only how you evaluate students, but actually how we are evaluated in schools in general. I am quite upset about it. I was thinking a lot, and I felt like to have some perspective from someone who is executing these process. Is it okay if I ask you some questions?
Student (He opened his bag, brought out his exam paper which have been already scored): As you can see I scored very low. But I didn’t come here to talk about my scores. I definitely did very bad in the exam. But do you think I don’t understand the topics?
Professor: That’s hard to tell. Given that you are way below the average, as you can see there are more than half of the students who performed better than you in the exam.
Student: Yes. Exactly. So, an exam is about performance then. Performing on this specific questions that you have put during a fixed time, right?
Professor: Yes. Definitely. But because it touches different topics that I taught in the class and you did in the assignments, if you can answer them correctly, that means you have command over those topics.
Student: Ideally yes. I agree. But I think you know that you also have some patterns in putting same questions in the exam. One of the questions are just a little bit of modification of last year exams. And students who solved those questions, I know, are the students who are the high scorers. So, before exams, preparing for the exam is necessary which, for most of the students, mean to solve past year questions. But even, that is not what I came to talk about. Now that we all have scores, half of them are below average and half are above. What is it measuring actually? Does it not just tell that the students with high scores practiced more than the others? Does it really reflect how much we have learnt from your teaching?
Professor: Yes. But practice is also very important. If you don’t practice, you forget what you have learnt.
Student: So, when we get a bad score, what exactly we should feel? I am confused about it. I think I can regret about not practicing more. But I think I started also doubting about my knowledge itself. And I think you also doubt that I haven’t learnt much given this score only. And I think that is not true. I reviewed the topics and I think I understand them very well. It’s just that I didn’t prepare myself for performing good in the exam. Exams just don’t drive me. I hate going in one hour exam rooms. I freak out. It’s like sports, football or baseball or soccer. All players in both teams know how to score a goal in a soccer game, but one team eventually wins based on their performance. But you need to have two teams in the first place for one team to lose for sure, if not draw. Yeah, not that always the same team is gonna win. And if the loser team gives a good fight, people will also appreciate. But I think we all know a win is a win, a loss is a loss. After even the hardest fight, the loser feels emotionally devastated. That loss might make him work even harder to not do the same mistake and win eventually in future in one hand, or completely destroy his confidence. And these two scenario vary a lot based on individuals. But I am not talking about the game itself. Each game is set up in a way to determine the winner and cheer for them and make the loser sob and weep. Isn’t it? So then is education in schools are also like games. Finding and sorting out winners? Making a good resume? Showing how much you have performed? Being a winner in life? Then if that is the case, you need a looser on the other hand. Someone needs to be defeated, someone needs to lose to have the perception of winning for the winner and others. Is it not then set up for some to lose?
Professor(now raised his eyebrow, thinking.., taking his time): Hmm. Then how else you propose to evaluate?
Student: I don’t know. I just can see something is wrong here. Is everybody incapable of seeing it? Or, are they just happy with what it is? And I even didn’t bring out so many personal, emotional reality a person might have been going through during the time of his performance.
Professor: That is why we sometimes do open book exams or take home exams. The whole point is to make you, students, work hard to learn more. If you didn’t have an exam, you wouldn’t work hard, right?
Student: But you are missing my point. If the ultimate goal is to learn, we are all learning. Some who have interest for some specific material or some who just want to perform really well or some who want to win, is going to perform better. But the evaluation tag that you put on everyone, that tells very less and very void of what the ultimate purpose it should be. Sometimes I feel like may be you all are too lazy to change things for us. Or may be just want us to go through the same grinder you have gone through. But you don’t realize the world outside is so different than the world you have experienced in your age. May be you just want the same world.
Professor: Hmm. I can’t say you are not right.
Student: You are driving us for what professor? You want me to solve the differential equations, the other professor wants me to draw a large heart of an amphibia, the other one wants me to measure the percentage of water in the rock, you criticize us when we are not accurate, when we make mistake. It seems like you all know everything, want us to know more, and don’t want to do mistake. But then we just feel like being dragged, pressured. My friend is leaving school, don’t know what he wants to do. My other friend had her parents divorced on the day of final exam. If you open the google news today, the absolute buffoon Donald J Trump wins the election. What is going on? Why does everything seem so wrong, if we or you know everything for so sure.
Professor: Don’t you think you are thinking too much?
Student: Yes, I am Professor. Yes I am. Thanks for listening.
(Student leaves and the Professor starts thinking..)