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Categorized | Personal, Society, Stories

When I Was Cheated

I was cheated. I was cheated when I was in school, not by my classmates but by the very exams that were supposed to measure my ratings and academic performance.

Grade 1: Math Subject

We were given an exam on multiplication. Part 1 was a timed exam due within 5 minutes. We were supposed to answer a set of items such as 8 multiplied by four and 7 times 51 using mental math. No calculators were allowed.

With a snap of a finger, the teacher shouted, “Finished or not finished, pass your papers.” I was hesitant to do so. I was not finished with ten items to fill up. But, hell, I had to move on to part 2.

The second part was easy. No time pressure. You just have to solve the problems given.  For example: Your father gave you a daily allowance of 100 pesos. How much will you be able to save in a week after spending 65 pesos a day?

The teacher checked the papers and after a day we were informed of our grades. I was given a perfect score for part 2 but the results of part 1 were devastating. Bottom line, I failed the test because part 1 had more items and thus had more bearing.

I was cheated that day. I felt that part 1 should have less bearing on exam. Why? Because part 1 is not a math exam. It doesn’t measure how good you are in applying mathematical principles. It just tests how good you are in memorizing the multiplication table.

I was not just cheated in math. I was consistently cheated in my other subjects due to the traditional belief that memory retention is the ultimate measure of academic success as thus success in later endeavors.

High School: History Subject

I was given an exam. The first part was enumeration. I had to write down names of Filipino Heroes. There was a question: Who was the Filipino hero who killed Magellan? I was tempted to answer Lapu Lapu because that was written in the history book that we were asked to memorize. I didn’t answer Lapu Lapu. Why? Because I believe he was not a Filipino in the first place. There was no national identity back then, only tribal identity.

This is just my opinion and I may be wrong. What bothers me is not just that we are expected to memorize what is written in our textbooks but that we are also expected to believe what’s written as if it was the ultimate truth.

I’m sure you can relate to what I am saying: that one time or another, we are expected to memorize and believe what our teachers and textbooks say. We are taught to believe that what’s written in our textbooks are ultimate truths and that memorizing these texts will make us succeed later in life. This is misleading because wrong measures lead to wrong results.

If we make our children memorize the multiplication table instead of making them understand the application of mathematical principles, we are inhibiting their learning and analyzing skills, making them good memory chips but poor mathematicians. If we strictly enforce the ideas of our social science textbooks to our children as if these were ultimate truths, we are prohibiting them to think independently.

Yes, the educational system sucks and we are all cheated. But the fact that you are reading this article right now is a proof that you keep an open mind and that you search for learning beyond the classroom walls of traditional education. You reflect on what you do and why you do it or why you believe what you believe. Instead of asking what, when and where, you ask the more important questions of how and why. How we all wish others would ask these questions too.

We are freethinkers. We were cheated once before and we do not want to be cheated again.

DISCLAIMER: The opinions in this post do not necessarily represent the position of the Filipino Freethinkers.