open book exams

I remember the first time I was told my exams would be in the open book format. I looked around me at the rest of the class to be sure I was not dreaming. Of the 30 or so people in that class were two Naijas. So, come exam day, me and my homey loaded every available textbook, class note and other materials we could get our hands on. I remember my heap of books being so high that I could barely see the guy by my side.

So they blew the whistle and I looked at the first question. It went something like: “Stating the models that support your argument, pick a country as a case for a technology colony and predict which of their enabling foreign owned technologies will likely chart the path to their industrial revolution….”

open book exams 1

Confusion. Whatever happened to simply defining the theory, its models and giving an example??? I think I must have spent the best part of 15 minutes of the 3 hour paper resetting my psyche before I could continue. The books and downloads did not help!

It was clear after finishing my post graduate degree from that school why some graduates are taught to think and others to know. Yet knowledge is not static. Those who are taught to know will struggle with adapting to new situations/conditions and change while the former will remain agile, adaptable and innovative while thriving in a diverse environment.

Not too long ago, I saw a poser on a friend’s wall about how two students from Ghana topped the WAEC examination score board. Good for them. Those same students would probably do better at examinations than the best South Africans, Ethiopians and students from most European countries for that matter. But think how much less innovative Ghana is than any of the countries mentioned. It’s the same way I look at other indices when picking a school for my child. While most parents are looking at examination scores and how children are able to recite all kinds of stuff like states, capitals and even governors by heart and do hard crunching maths ahead of their grades; I look at learning environment, diversity/social and networking opportunities, sports facilities, behaviours and general confidence of the students I come across. After that, I believe the missing link in completing the raising of the child belongs to me.

Let me close with the following quote from Albert Einstein –

“Education is not the learning of facts, it’s rather the training of the mind to think.”


Image source: Getty Images; Anon