O Levels are starting today. Ada Derana sent out an SMS in the morning saying that the examination commissioner wanted all students to come half hour early. I remember when i did my O/Ls. i crammed a few months before the exam. And passed pretty well.
At that time the exam was a repeating pattern, most teachers knew the most common questions. So they focused more on these areas when studying the textbooks. Exam questions also got leaked, and some teachers were known for subtly giving an exam question or two in ‘revision classes’ before papers.
I studied a fair bit of algebra, biology, physics, chemistry, literature, history and sociology for my O/Ls. And like I said, passed pretty well. That’s not to say however that i actually KNEW much about those subjects. I just knew how to pass a well structured, somewhat predictable, mechanical exam BASED on the rudiments of Maths, Science and Sociology.
No one really told me why exactly i should be learning these things, other than of course, that i will be tested on them at the end of two years, and that how i fare in these tests will play a decisive role in my prospects in a set of tougher, even more mechanical set of exams that might, just, lead me to enter the most mechanical part of my education of all; local university.
I don’t know if things have changed now. But education should be about learning, not about stuffing your students’ heads with facts and numbers that have no meaning to them. There is no learning without meaning. And meaning is almost independent of facts and numbers. It requires independent thought and experimentation. Learning is understanding, about being able to fit all the little things into the bigger picture. And understanding is what stays with you in the long term. Facts and figures are easily forgotten.
So good luck to all those nangis and mallis sitting for their exams. Pass them well, but don’t take them all that seriously, if you’re serious about getting somewhere in the real world.