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Archive for January 28th, 2018

exam

As the semester was coming to mid-January, I could see the stress and worry creeping into the faces and body language of so many high school students.

Wide-eyed, full of questions …
or stone silent.

Looking for reviews, study notes  …
or affirmation.

Totally unaware of how to study …
or already immersed in it for weeks.

Last week I was reminded, yet again, of something that is so important to remind students …

their worth does not come from an exam mark

Exam week is a fascinating time to work in a high school. As one who loves to observe behaviours and body language, it is prime time to study both teachers and students.

The teachers are concerned with ensuring that enough exams have been printed, did all students how up to write, and then there is the marking (followed by report cards).

The students carry a different weight.

Sure, there are those who just show up, and write their exams, with nary a care in the world, but that is a unique student, who may be blessed with never having an intimate knowledge of high blood pressure, stress or anxiety.

Most students carry the burden of the exam, and on top of the appropriate amount of concern for their academic performance, some carry much, much more.

The constant message, intended as encouragement by teachers, peers, parents to take their exams seriously, can birth an unhealthy perspective, turning their academic results into personal value. Whether real of perceived, many students feel that their exam results determine their worth, as a person.

Each exam has such students poised to write who believe that lie, and it is written in their eyes, their furrowed brows and, for some, in their absence, as they are still home,  close to the porcelain god in their bathrooms.

If for no other, it is this unhealthy perspective that makes me appreciate working in a school that allows corporate prayer. For each exam begins with prayer.

I tell them to drop their pencils and pens, to clasp their hands … not because they need folded hands to come to God, but to allow them to feel that they are alive, real.

I tell them to be quiet as we pray … not because God can’t keep track of what is being prayed, but so that they might have opportunity to hear their own breath rise and fall, taking focus off their worry.

I tell them to close their eyes … not because they can only pray with eyes closed tight, but that they might allow their eyes to rest for a moment from seeing the exam in front of them.

We pray together, asking that God might clear their minds, to perform to the best of their abilities.

Then I pray one last thing, that God would remind them that this is just an exam, and that he reminds them that their value does not come from an exam result, but from him.

And that is my prayer … for any exam can be rewritten, any course can be redone, but to think that those things are more important than oneself can be fatal.

 

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