Saturday, July 02, 2011

Are we morons?

I know the answer to that one! But I rather meant us, as Poles in general, rather than us as in Poland X. The question pops up every year sometime in late June or early July when Poland's education body releases results of the "matura" exam (baccalaureate in British or final exams in North American) that ends high school.

Every year the scenario repeats itself. People moan over the high number of students failing the exam. This year it was an unusually high 25 percent, which supposedly means younger generations of Poles are not exactly a bunch of Albert Einsteins. Now if you think that a 75-percent success ratio is good, please bear in mind that to fail the exam you had to have a score of...30 percent or lower. Yes, 30 percent!

This year's exam was supposedly tricky, hence the 25 percent failure rate, because the math section contained "unconventional" questions. What surprised me the most, however, was that the government body responsible came out immediately to saythat they will rethink this approach before next year's exam, i.e., they will surely dumb it down.

I honestly don't think all the kids these days are morons. I am sure that a lot of them had a score way better than 30. However, the system is certainly moronic.

First of all who the fuck needs an exam that has such a low pass/fail threshold? Especially one that is supposed to qualify students for colleges and universities, few of which hold exams of their own and rather use the result from the "matura" as a grade. Such an exam fails at this utterly. It also fails as a way to motivate young people to study hard and improve their skills. After all what is the prize if only the most lazy/stupid/busy kids don't pass?

This exam is just an element of the entire education system where people pat kids on the back each year lowering standards, requirements, adding useless exams that are designed to be passed by nearly everyone, until these kids finish college.... when they hit a 20 percent unemployment level and suddenly realize the world doesn't need 5,000 new philisophy or Japanese literature graduates, but rather needs butchers, plumbers, or car mechanics who make 3 times more money.

So are the kids morons, no. Are we? not so sure anymore.

1 comment:

  1. It is upsetting, and I could clarify where my upset lies in each of the different aspects concerned in formulating this situation. But there is the answer to a question far more important to listen for:

    Why are Poles so upset? The answer will be in their actions to address their upset.

    Lower test score standards and the students become world beaters in knowledge, know-how and innovation with Grade-A levels set at 51%... But that only works in The Polish Reality that continues to conquer the Polish Nation, like Piastic barons.

    Sadly, it needs to be pointed out to this Polish Reality that a 30% pass is reason for disgrace and humiliation. In America, where the people are often characterized as arrogant and ignorant of the world, the pass is 60%.

    When I taught a business capstone course for 5th year students at University of Warsaw - a school with a good reputation - students told me they had learned about financial reporting yet NONE knew a debit from a credit. Faced with this, I was encouraged by my employer (perhaps for the benefiot of my own job since I was liked by my colleagues) to give a multiple choice exam.

    I settled on a paired class project, offering extensive office hours and including my private telephone number. 2-pairs completed the 15-page paper for a simple grade of 5/5 and 4/5. The rest of the class, 26 students, failed to write the paper. They were graduated despite never presenting their index to me.

    Are we embarassed for the students or for the system? Do Poles drive lorries or waiter in the EU because of some "ethnic discrimination" or because that is their study equivalency abroad? Why is it so difficult for expats CEOs to hire workers who work inside their business in Poland? What creates a moron?