Children should cheat
People hate tests. Students don’t like them because they feel pressured and teachers don’t like them because they have to grade them and become aware that all the effort they put in teaching those who failed wasn’t worth it . I blame cheating.
To put it more clearly, I blame the notion of cheating. Cheating only exists as we know it (copying from a colleague or a previously prepared sheet of paper) because learning has become memorizing. And that is palpable when we analyse the thought process of a student:
"As I am now, I will fail this test. The only way I am going to pass is to write this small amount of information on tiny sheets of paper and take them with me."
On a larger scale, cheating works like this: you can’t put that much information on sheets of paper that the teacher won’t notice. The students, knowing they can pass with this method, refuse to work and learn on their own. The students who cheated pass with below average scores but that doesn’t matter because at least they passed. The teacher sees that the grades were terrible and decides he/she will make na easier test next time, so the grades will improve.
When students say: “When am I ever going to need this?” I think they are actually saying: “When am I ever going to need this so urgently that I won’t have time to Google it or read the Wikipedia article?” And they are right.
The solution is obvious. Allow students to bring whatever they want to the test. The purpose of this is not to let everybody pass, but to make tests harder. So hard you couldn’t pass without knowing where to look for the information or knowing it already. I remember being in highschool and having graphic calculators that allowed you to insert text. The maths and physics teachers knew we used them and even encouraged this behaviour. Nonetheless, they made the test so that you couldn’t pass without learning.
You may protest: “It could work in maths and physics, but how can it work in Geography or History?
Simple. Don’t teach the facts, teach the students how to think. A test with questions that can be aswered with short answers is easily solved if you have the course book. Instead of asking “In what year was [Important Person] killed?”, ask “What were the reasons for the murder of [Important Person] and what implications did this have for the rest of the population, particularly those who commited the murder?”
The fact that the second answer has a much longer answer will make cheating a lot more difficult, as well as allowing those who don’t have the “complete answer” to get a few point for the information they actually know.