Last week was exams week, which for me and Kyekue usually means a week off of teaching but instead we were asked by the head teacher of elementary to come into school and monitor the exams. This was completely fine, I was only going to be bored sitting in our room anyway.
So my first exam to monitor was class 4 English. No problem, I just had to get them all to sit in quiet and do there test then once they had settled down I could read my book. I got them all to sit away from each other making sure that they weren’t going to cheat or talk and then gave them their English papers. We went through the usual “no pen miss” and then they settled down and started the exam.
Except they didn’t start, they just sat there. Staring at the paper and then staring back at me as if I was supposed to be doing something. I was completely confused, but not one of them spoke up as to if there was a problem or not. So half an hour past and the exam finished. They were still sitting there with blank papers and even blanker expressions on their faces. I had no idea what to do because they hadn’t written anything and I felt like it was my fault. But I collected in their papers and sent them to the headmistress then I went to class 3.
Class 3 had just had a maths test and I was about to take their English lesson. I walked into the classroom and the emotion I felt can only be described as utter disbelief. All of class 3 were sitting completing their maths papers, but they were reading the answers off of the board. Sir had written all the answers to the test out and now they were just writing them down. It was then that I realised this happens in every exam ... that’s why class 4 just sat there waiting for me. They wanted me to give them the answers and that’s all they have ever known. I was appalled. How are these children learning? Are they even being taught any of this?
I’ve always knew that they learn the answers off by heart but copying them is a completely different story. So I decided to quiz class 3 to see if they actually knew the answers. I put some basic division questions on the board and asked them to answer in their books. Over half the class got them wrong and the others couldn’t explain what division meant, they had just memorised 12 ÷ 4 = 3. So I taught them division that lesson. I taught them how to use circles and dots to divide up the different amounts and I taught them the difference between a divide sign and a minus.
The next day they were doing the sums perfectly, and we were playing game where the kids had to divide themselves by a number. It felt very successful. I know I can’t change the way the school system works but I can teach class 3 so they know how to divide.