Being an Examiner
Published in The Kathmandu Post
To those who have never been in teaching and examination, it sounds easy to be an examiner. You just have a pile of answer copies and your job is to ‘get rid of them’ anyhow. And the common complaint is that the ‘future of the students’ depends on your mood while with the copies. True examiners, however, do this work with the extent of honesty it requires, not just in the name of doing it, but with the feeling that they are contributing somehow to the education system and to the preparation of a capable workforce for the future. In this sense, it is not only the future of the individuals they are working to determine, but also that of the forthcoming society. Slight carelessness from their part results into either the promotion of the incompetent or the demotion of the worthy. Evaluation of the students is a very responsible job and you do not deserve it unless you are established as one bearing the integrity of a teacher, especially in maintaining the associated examination norms. And once you are with the copies, besides the duty of evaluation, you have the chance of learning from the answers. Serious scrutiny of the writings will reveal to you a lot about the extent of understanding the young minds have about the subjects in the first place. Second, it is an important means of evaluating the success of teachers and the teaching system itself.
For a teacher, teaching is a job that always teaches. Only those who are truly in it know that it involves moments of hardships, both mental and physical. These hardships contribute to the process of intellectual maturity and try your worth as a person who has a duty to help mature young minds. Teaching involves moments of learning and one of them is when you are examining the students. Their assignments as well as exam papers give you an idea of the course of development they are in. However, this idea does not entail the works that are plagiarized, rote-learned or cheated, but the original writings. Interestingly, answers that involve students’ creativity are impressive and educational. Let us observe a few of the answers taken from exam papers. A student wrote for her essay on “My Plans after MBBS,” – I don’t have the common plans of serving in the remote part of the country “free of cost” or set up a hospital for the poor. These are false promises, and I have not seen them accomplished so far in the Medical Profession. For me the outskirts of the Kathmandu Valley appear to be the right place to work for. Aren’t they still remote for their backwardness in case of health and sanitation, and more noticeably, for the condition of women?” Another student defined peace for an essay, “peace is what you feel when you are free to go to school without having your schoolbag searched for what you have not kept and will never keep.” Yet another student wrote her vision of friendship, “True friendship remains there till you are 85 or beyond, and you and your friend still enjoy a time together sipping your tea and laughing at the joint follies of your teens.” Aren’t these ideas worth reflection and more matured than they deserve dumping and burning in the name of system?
Particularly such and other analytical and creative writings can be a good intellectual food for all of us. Teachers of language and literature generally have the luck to read varieties of such reflective writing. If you are one, it is wise that you revise and keep such ideas. They are at least useful for you because you are the only person to have the access to use them. The creators of these ideas may not see them again and perhaps have no lasting realization of the fact that they ever created them. For certain formalities of examination, you are not in a position to know who the writers are. If the examination happens be to a board examination and for you the writers are just strangers, you have the ideas all for yourself. You could say a “well-done !” to those smart kids if it were a local examination like a Terminal or Class test taken in schools and colleges where the papers are returned for revision . That would surely prove encouraging. When this is not possible, you may only wonder how it is possible to create such a dashing argument despite the usual horror of the ever-running time, or take it as a challenge for yourself because you were never so smart in your time. A teacher often experiences this secret moment of thankfulness and challenge. It’s true. But the thanking cannot take place because there are norms you should not violate. Instead, your gratitude gets expression in your attitude towards the students, and you have wishes for their success. Finally, you confirm your belief that the process of examination and evaluation is not a mere assigned duty, but a reward for those who are in the system of teaching and learning.