Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Mockery Of Exams Is Absolutely Normal

Many of my regular readers know that apart from my obsession in accuracy when setting treasure hunt questions, I also try my best to be artistic. Except for some of you who were my ex-classmates, not many would know that I'm also good in arts—I mean drawings and paintings. In fact, if I'm not mistaken that was the only subject for which I scored an A1 in the SRP exams years ago. Like I said, I wasn't really a bright student when I was in school; I didn't do too well in the other subjects. After that, I went into the science stream and never took a higher level exams in arts. However, I used to spend some time painting over the years until about 10 years ago. Some of my works are still hanging on the walls of my living room up to now. So I know a bit about arts.

The thing about black-and-white drawings is that when there is lack of "shadings" in them, the diagrams will become 2 dimensional. It means that one can't really judge the depth of the drawn items, especially if those items are all black in colour!

About 2 weeks ago, JJ had her mock exams, of which Mia worked very hard to prepare her. A week's worth of nightly revisions. But she did not expect the kind of questions that would be raised in the exams.

Consider the following diagram:

Three black items with that thing which appears like the letter "X" on the bottom right. What do you make of this diagram? Could it be rats' or house lizards' droppings? Would you say that it's round or flat; or both? Could it be, say, papaya seeds? To me, maybe!

Well, JJ thought it looked like papaya seeds. They're black, which fits the "papaya seeds" criteria. But unfortunately, papaya seeds are not supposed to be elongated.

Now here's the question as it appeared in the exams sheet:

Apart from the wrong grammar—there is supposed to be the letter "s" at the end of the word "seed"—I find this question quite challenging for a primary 2 kid. I don't know how many of her classmates have actually seen a real sunflower before. But at least my JJ did not opt for banana. Otherwise I would've gone bananas!

I suspect because our politicians can't seem to make up their minds about the best medium of instruction in our schools, our teachers are getting confused. "Mock exams" is not an abbreviation for "mockery of exams", as much as "abnormal" is not an abbreviation for "absolutely normal". I think somebody should do something to ensure that our teachers should know at least a bit more about grammar to start with before they try to teach our kids in English.

I must be getting a bit too old for the modern education system. I was just chatting with a friend recently about our national language, Bahasa Malaysia. I consider myself lucky because I've been keeping up with the so-called "progress" and, if you like, "development", in the language by reading Malay articles. Otherwise, I would find many foreign-looking words which were not in the books when I was still in school. Bahasa Malaysia used to look very much like Bahasa Melayu many years ago. These days, Bahasa Malaysia looks more like, well, Bahasa Malaysia, and not so much like Bahasa Melayu as I know it. Now we have implikasi, reformasi and koc. Bahasa Malaysia is more sophisticated these days, you see—agaknya bahasa yang lebih canggih.

Well, for three days beginning from today, JJ is having her exams—this time, hopefully there won't be any room for mockery. This may be surprising to some of you, but Mia actually took yesterday and today off from work to focus fully on doing revisions with my JJ. I don't know why Mia is going through so much pain for this, but I guess I shouldn't be complaining. After all, if my JJ can score well in her exams, I would be a proud dad! But I'm keeping my fingers crossed—hopefully I won't go bananas when I see her results.


Anonymous said...

I think it is neither papaya seeds or sunflower seeds but a good piece of Chinese paintbrush painting from my observation!

Cornelius said...

Haha!... Chinese paintbrush, huh? Well, in this case, I think we are dealing with "what is the best answer from the given choices"?