“Learning does not consist only of knowing what we must or we can do, but also of knowing what we could do and perhaps should not do.”
– Umberto Eco, The Name of the Rose.
Seriously, I really don’t think it’s wise to mess with an English major. We keep lots of (allegedly) useless and dusty stuff trapped in our heads and once in a while we get the opportunity to let some of it out and it bites exam papers square on their imaginary behinds!
Of course, I am like a wizened Confucius now, bearing the steadfast signature drawl and confident swagger of John Wayne, the ultimate personification of courage and honor, after receiving my results. Beforehand, I was questioning the precise magnitude of my intellectual equipment and whether I managed to spell my own name correctly on the answer sheet – let alone any of the names of the authors I had attempted to analyse and discuss (calculating the probability of whether or not that would be enough to scrape me through and then hanging my head in rapid despair). It has been sixteen years since I sat my own GCSEs, but being surprised with these 2012 exam papers shrank me in time to find myself back at school undergoing external examinations and horrifyingly retroceded into the clammy-handed, nervously uncertain, bone-rattling, second-guessing, exam-taking flummox I had tried to avoid being for the post-sixteen-better-half-of-my-life period. The absolute roller coaster ride of emotions and stress that pupils experience should never be underestimated and I think that this task was an effective method of “psychological flooding” to get me thinking about the issues regarding external assessment and examinations.