“I left 10 marks”, my son announced as soon as he entered the house.
I was not surprised. The Exam was English Literature and for a kid with Dysgraphia a 90 minute exam was not going to be easy.
We were prepared for it.
What was the question, half expecting a letter or a passage, I was surprised when he told me “I had to unjumble some letters, write it’s meaning and make a sentence.”
How can unjumbling words be difficult said one part of my brain and the other wondered if it was a task meant for a literature exam.
And then I saw the alphabets.
Let me give you context: I am the one who does the Jumble in the Telegraph as often as I remember. Most days it comes easy, most often a look at the alphabets and the word is right in front of me.
But today as I stared at the string of jumbled alphabets, some as long as 11; I was upset. Was a ten year old expected to do such a task while racing against time?
Who does this, I thought.
(And not to forget what a nightmare for the marking scheme: 2 marks per word to be further divided into three tasks. What gets assigned 1 mark: writing a sentence or unjumbling?)
And then I was told there was another set of question paper with the same task.
How did they assess the difficulty level?
As an educator, as someone whose job included quality assessment of question papers this disturbed me. It’s the way I am wired.
I was not alone it seems. And as others, including me, were ranting and rambling on the whatsapp group, one mother sent us this message:
“Our children are going to be challenged like this in many more exams. They need to learn to think on their feet and as parents we need to stop focusing on marks.”
The Parenting lesson I took away from this exam was the sane voice of this mother!
It doesn’t matter how the world fails our kids because it will. And so will we.
It doesn’t matter that ‘safe spaces’ are rampant with abusers and bullies.
So what if inclusivity doesn’t exist.
And it doesn’t matter if the test challenges them in ways they have not been prepared.
Those battles are separate.
For another time. Another place.
What matters is that we prepare them to fail, yet not feel like failures.
We help them choose and decide the yardsticks against which they measure themselves.
And we discount everything else like it JUST DOESN’T MATTER.