Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Exam twit

On the eve of my last invigilation day, I'm thinking about that little twit that tweeted a photo of his exam paper before the exam officially started. (Yes, old news. Click the link for details if you must).

I'm not thinking of him, per se, but rather about the invigilators of that venue for that paper and the trouble they must have gotten into for not spotting his mischief and putting a stop to it before it became a national embarrassment. They have my sympathies, actually, because as an invigilator myself I know that especially in a large venue, it's nearly impossible to monitor every single candidate every second of the exam. And, honestly speaking, do we really want it to come to that?

The boy may not realize how big a deal his indiscretion was, though he's apologized for it. He claims his intention to continue his studies overseas as his mitigation, so I doubt the sincerity of his apology. Anyway, his one thoughtless act has put us on a very slippery slope.

It's true that what he did does not constitute cheating, but he possessed and activated the means to do so. The exam is based on the trust in the personal integrity of each candidate, but with this act of 'boredom' he has single-handedly cast doubt on the whole honour system. If one stupid boy could do it, it exposes a flaw in the monitoring system that can be exploited for future exams. But to see the flaw as a weakness is also incorrect because it is expected that every student is an honourable candidate. However, after this incident this assumption can not no longer be taken as automatically true.

In a more reactionary society, exam security systems will be reviewed and revamped to assume that every student is and harbours intentions to be dishonest. New measures for next year's exams could include anything from putting more invigilators on duty, to installing on site electronic monitoring systems and signal jammers (can you say, "increased school fees"?), to subjecting every candidate to pass a 'naked scanner' or pat-down before the paper commences.

Let's hope cooler heads prevail. Schools can't function if we start treating our kids like criminals. But for that boy, I'll leave this entry as yet another online indictment against him for putting our industry in jeopardy because he could think only of himself and his personal entertainment, but no further.

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