Posted by: jockmackenzie | June 22, 2009

Final Exams – Time at the end?



The final exam is one of the last stages of the school year. For kids, it’s likely viewed as the very last stage – they don’t have to mark the exam, prepare the report cards, fill in the cum files, etc.

In my childhood, we used to joke, “Hey, you should be on the stage.” And then, after a moment’s pause, add, “Yeah, there’s one leaving in ten minutes.”

The stage coach (technically not a true stage coach but close enough for my purposes here) shown above is one my sister-in-law has done upholstery work on for a fellow out west on the Ya Ha Tinda. My wife and I are shown with her cousins, Bobby and Chris.

So what does all this talk of stage coaches have to do with final exams? Well, most final exams have a time limit – and it’s the final “stage” of the “final stage” that could be used to better advantage. Students must stay for a minimum time; the idea is to encourage them to put in a full effort, not to allow them to rush through and rush out.

The result is often a substantial amount of sitting and waiting. Despite being encouraged to bring a book to read, many students end up sitting idly. And I am quite happy to let them sit – but not for an interminable period. Once a reasonable amount of time has elapsed, I have offered spare paper and encouraged students to draw a picture of me or to give the Continues and Discontinues for my course for students in years to come. For the Continue/Discontinue part, I ask for point form ideas. The results are quite educational. In the final moments of the school year, students will recount events and activities that I did not consider particularly noteworthy but ones they enjoyed and suggest for students in the future. At the same time, it is interesting to see what they didn’t like and suggest should be “discontinued.”

As Rudyard Kipling said:

If you can fill the unforgiving minute

With sixty seconds worth of distance run –

Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it

And – which is more – you’ll be a Man, my son!

So here’s one the pictures – this one is circa 1976 – from my early days at West Park Junior High School. I wonder where Tibor, the artist, is today?


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