Anyone? Anyone… Bueller?

Observing classrooms can result in a veritable lifetime of good writing. There is always something going on, besides the teaching of course. Its like watching an Eco system unravel and wrap up all, within the span of an hour or two.  If you have a wandering mind like I do, then you’ll notice a parallel world working in silence while a lecture is in progress. There are life changing conversations, naps, graffiti and art work, games and note based interaction all happening around you. There are a few who manage to pay attention in class as well, but even they can’t sustain the focus for beyond some time. So I’ve decided to embark upon a historic project, an anthropological study if you will. This page is devoted to my many findings on the classroom process, the continuous engagement with higher education that we like to call university life.

 

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2.12.08

Examining the examination

Giving exams or tests has never bothered me like it bothers many people. Even when I am completely and hopelessly unprepared to take the test, I don’t panic or cry or do any of the other stuff that I’ve seen my classmates do since kindergarten. It’s almost as if I look forward to them. Don’t get me wrong. I am not one of those hated, geeky kids who can’t wait to write reams of answer scripts and shove their A +s in people’s  faces.  But I  find exams rather therapeutic. I mean its like- this is what all the fuss is about, think how good you’ll feel once it’s down. Finishing an exam is like putting an end to one part of your life, and starting another.

So the semester finals came and went. Man, has it already been half a year, since I started my Masters. Sometimes, I feel like I am outside my body and can watch my life running at full speed, like a picture taken with slow shutter speed.  The first five minutes before the exam starts are the same in any exam hall whether it is in the second grade or college. People all around are praying, appealing to whoever up there to salvage their half-baked revision attempts and get them through to the next semester. There are covert thumbs ups signifying good luck being passed around from one distant desk to another. Some are opening their pouches and cases, laying out  pencils, pens and rulers in meticulous fashion. My good friend A, who uses her whitener and different coloured pens, even when she is jotting class notes, has the  whole ammunition on her desk. She’s the person whom you contact if you’re the kid who forgets to bring a pen to class.

So then the question papers are handed out, and then there is some panic, some relief, vacant expression staring, some over zealous writing, and some plain amount of indifference. It happens in all of us at specific times. Of course, the real part to watch out is the last five minutes of the exam. Everybody plays I can write faster than you can till the invigilator comes and takes our scripts away.  Of course, those who finish before hand  will look upon smugly at the pens that move quicker than bullets. And once you’ve handed in your answer sheet or rather it is pulled away from you, you walk outside with a mixture of relief and disappointment to be greeted by a volley of questions- How was it? What questions did you attempt? How many pages did you write? and so on.

The postmortem  of any exam is a much hated and much loved activity that students engage in. While on one hand, you don’t want to exorcise ghosts you’ve put to bed, you also can’t help being curious, about how you did, or more importantly, how everyone else did. So we’ll stretch it out till we can’t stand talking about it anymore. Once that’s done, everybody goes to sleep. Its standard procedure. Recovering from sleep deprivation that comes from burning midnight oil or anxiety by napping till your head aches.  Then when you do get up all you can think is- One down, more to go.

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