That’s right- teacher exam fever! Have you ever taken a crucial lab test and waited for results or had an impromptu speech to give before people on whom your life depended? The anxiety bred by such situations is incomparable to a teacher’s when the final external exam for his/her subject is being written or worse still, the day results are released.
First, let’s clear the fallacy that exam fever is a condition only diagnosed among students. The fact is that most students suffer from this phobia especially in third term. From experience, this is the time some students become withdrawn, cranky,and irritable and even throw tantrums. Indeed, it sometimes makes some students fall prey to alcoholism, smoking and drug abuse. However, limiting this nervousness only to students is rather simplistic and naïve because teachers equally become anxious and more apprehensive as they approach the season of final examinations. This is not to say they fear exams but that they suffer from the dread of failure.
The amount of pressure put on teachers to “produce results” especially of national exams is simply overwhelming. Today the verdict is always against the teachers. Gone are the days when students were held accountable for their performance and would sign performance contracts with their parents. Today teachers are held responsible for results and parents actually use the parent-teacher conferences to have teachers commit to “making” their children pass. The administrators equally have their share of guilt in this. They retain teachers based on student performance and I cannot even begin to explain the kind of angst this trend cultivates among teachers.
Because of this, most teachers resort to activities that not only compromise their professional integrity, but also put students under a lot of pressure to perform. Pushed to the wall, maintaining their status,and most importantly their jobs, by far takes precedence over developing the abilities of the student. Today most teachers are reduced to sheer examination puppets who dance to the tunes of the puppeteer. Sorry to say this but someone needed to; the schemes of work are designed from past exam papers and the tests and CATs are reduced to mare past paper replicates. The general level of teacher creativity and innovation is appallingly mortifying to say the least.
Lest we forget, whatever affects teachers, trickles down to students. If teachers are under pressure to “produce grades”, students suffer the weightof their frustrations and catch the flue. It boils down to the pressure parents, administrators, the system and whatever else you want to point fingers at, put on teachers. So instead of treating headache, why not just go all the way and treat malaria- the underlying cause? Approaching exam fever from the students’ level is a waste if the teachers are not relieved of their own anxiety.
This is in no way meant to undermine the fact that teachers contribute a lot to the performance or to condone poor performance among teachers; but rather, to highlight the failure in our education system that interests itself in the end and not the means. Teaching is done the right way without anybody breathing down anyone’s neck, the best results will be realized. Who certified rote learning? Has anyone stopped to think of how this might affect us in the long run? What happened to the passion our forefathers (and of course mothers) had to impart knowledge?
The writer is a Language Consultant