Should we have exams?

This week, with IB exams kicking off, together with questions regarding graphing calculators in our school, have started me thinking about how the IB exam should be administered.

There are three questions that are in the forefront of my mind:  should we give exams in high school; how do we integrate use of, and familiarity with, the graphing calculator in our lessons; and, what is the point of having a graphing calculator, if the students have laptops.

This post examines the first question.

This week, a colleague, the school’s curriculum coordinator, sent us an article on exams:  should we have exams?  The writer basically questions the need for exams, and whether they run counter to the purpose of education.

I understand the point of view expressed in the article, but surely we want to know our local doctor, the flight control personnel, or a network administrator, passed the relevant exams.  Some professions require people who can work under pressure, or think on the spot.  Also, studying for an exam should not just be to get a good grade, then a desired occupation, etc.  Students should be studying for the exam, in order to do the best they can, and to be proud of the results that ensue.

Personally, I think we owe it to the students to give them an examination in mathematics.  Many further mathematics students will veer towards careers that do (quite rightly) require solid examination results in order to progress.

About eadurkin

Originally a HS Mathematics teacher from New Zealand, currently working as Associate Principal in the Secondary School at Canadian Academy, an international school in Kobe, Japan. Married with two children.
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