Why are students always relying on guess papers instead of following the syllabus?
As a teacher, the most intimidating questioning I am frequently asked is,
“Miss, aapka guess paper nahi hai?”
(Miss, don’t you have your own guess paper?)
On one hand, it makes me feel like a lethargic potato who is probably failing at teaching, but one the other, it also feels like I am not putting enough effort into educating my students. The tragedy I face with not being able to devise a guess paper is exacerbated by my inability to apply my mathematical skills and probabilities to come up with one.
This particular question often has its similar counterparts to further drive me into a phase of questioning my teaching abilities. They sound more or less like,
“Miss, aapkay notes nahi hain? Is school ke teacher ke notes book se achay hain.”
(Miss, don’t you have your own notes to give us? Teachers from this school have better notes than our text books.)
“Miss, solved past papers de dein.”
(Miss, please give us the solved past papers.)
For someone who grew up reading books, critically analysing ideas, preparing for every possible question that could be asked (because let’s face it, how much is there to ask when the syllabus has been specified), I couldn’t bring myself to provide these shortcuts to learning.
So I tell my students to read the book and if they want to write effective response essays, I tell them that they should read more since this will help them develop better writing skills. Five months of lectures pass with every topic being discussed in detail. I observe the effort being put into writing down notes during the classes I conduct and then receive affirmative responses when asked if they had been doing their readings.
It was around two weeks before finals when one of my students handed me a compilation of notes. The notes were watermarked as the intellectual property of a renowned teacher that taught the same subject as me. He was looking for my approval to prepare for the final exam with the help of these notes and not the actual book. I told him that the notes are just bits and pieces of the book’s chapters compiled together. I was shocked when he replied that that is exactly why he will not need to read the irrelevant parts in the book.
I tried to convince him, but I am pretty sure he went ahead with the notes instead of the book. I also know that I will be to blame when his grade is not up to the mark. That’s what people do anyway; more often than not, they attribute success to themselves and blame their failure on others.
My conscience, which does not let me teach for grades but rather for learning, could not care less about this. Grades are often a by-product of how well you have learned, especially in a social science subject which is supposed to make you question established paradigms, norms and ideas and critically analyse them. But the shortcuts to learning, coupled with a short attention span while reading, worsen the potential development of the genius of a brain that we have been blessed with.
As a commercial teacher, I am sure I have already failed with all the watermarking and probabilities. As a devoted-to-try-to-make-you-learn teacher, I can only try to make things easier for you but – this goes out to all the students reading this blog – a teacher can only do so much. If you expect teachers to magically have you drink a potion of solutions or if you’re amazed at some of the guess papers being correctly predicted, you’re fooling no one but yourself.
The guess papers cover broad headings of the most important topics and trust me, it is no surprise when most of them show up because, and I will repeat this, those topics had already been specified in the syllabus. I am sure at the end of the day, in the commercial society we live in where education itself is no longer protected, grades count and future prospects depend on them, but if you truly learn and understand and put in enough effort, the grades will only be a convenient by-product to attain.
So until I try to adapt to the market dynamics of the education sector, I hope you learn to learn new things and give them the time they need.
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.