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This Curriculum Was Designed By A Doof

, , , , | Learning | November 1, 2019

(I go to an “elite” high-school that specializes in language learning. The really cool thing about their curriculum is that after the initial hard learning in the first year, students take one or more classes entirely in their primary language. For me it is German, and because the school doesn’t have enough teachers to cover all subjects, my classmates and I end up with chemistry and biology in German all through ninth grade. Our final biology tests are tough and most of us review all of the year’s learning material so that we can pass. Skip ahead to tenth grade. Note: it’s usual for schools in Bulgaria to hold “entry-level” tests for most subjects, in order to review the most important things from the last year and to ease the transition in the new stuff.)

Teacher: “All right, students, hope you had a good summer, but now things are getting tough again. Our entry-level test is on Tuesday next week.”

Class: *groans*

Teacher: “I also have some good news, though. This year we won’t be learning in German, so at least you won’t be bothered by grammar and new biology vocabulary.”

Class: *sighs in relief*

Classmate: “Excuse me, Mrs. [Teacher], we are still having the entry test in German, right?”

Teacher: “Why? It’s in Bulgarian, too.”

Classmate: “But we know all this stuff in German!”

Teacher: “So, translate it; you’re smart enough, I believe?”

Classmate: “Yeah, for most things, but those special terms aren’t that easy to translate. All materials we have from last year are in German, and we don’t even know what half of the organs are called in Bulgarian!”

Teacher: “Oh, come on. You can do it. End of discussion. Now, let’s review. Can someone tell me anything about the chemical substances in a human cell?”

Class: *looks dumb*

Teacher: “Anyone? No one?”

Class: *looks even dumber*

Teacher: *sighs* “All right…” *in German* “Chemical substances in a cell?”

Classmate: *also in German* “I know that one!” *proceeds to explain*

Me: *facepalm* “We’re so failing that entry test.”

(Most of us did fail. I still think it was a very stupid change in curriculum.)

Beware The Hijabberwocky

, , , , , , | Working | October 16, 2019

(I work at an institute for further adult education, supervising examinations. There have to be two supervisors present at all times to make sure that everyone follows the rules: no cheating, no use of electronic devices, etc. One supervisor is from the institute and one acts as a neutral party and is not affiliated with us at all. The external supervisor has been working with us for many years. He is a gruff, retired teacher and works mostly on a freelance basis. However, I notice that he has become increasingly irritating and difficult to deal with over the course of the last couple of months, sometimes to the extent that he flat-out insults examinees and threatens to kick them out for the most insignificant reasons. When I supervise with him, I almost have more difficulty keeping him in check than the students. But since he has been with us for so long, my boss says that we should at least work with him occasionally to keep the good relationship. On this day, I am once again supervising an exam with him. It is still early and the examinees are slowly filtering into the room, and while I do the identity and passport checks at the entrance, he is writing down the seating plan for those who have already chosen a seat. Suddenly, I hear him raise his voice, sounding angry. Sighing internally, I make my way over to where he is to see what is going on. He is currently standing in front of a woman who is already sat down and looks rather uncomfortable. She is also wearing a hijab.)

Me: “Hey, Mr. [Supervisor], is everything okay? What’s going on?”

Supervisor: *aggressively* “Yeah, I am just doing my job! We have to collect all electronic devices that these people may have so that they cannot use them to cheat right? I want her–” *gestures to the woman* “–to show me her ears! For all I know she could have one of those button-like radio things in there and get the answers from someone else!”

(I stare at him for ten seconds flat while my brain tries to catch up with what I just heard and come up with a coherent response. He, a broad, roughly sixty-year-old guy just demanded from a clearly Muslim woman to take off her headscarf to show him her ears! After finally getting my bearings, I desperately try to defuse the situation because the woman is definitely shaking right now.)

Me: “Uh, I really don’t think that that’s necessary. We are required to collect all mobile phones, smartwatches, and the like, and we have to supervise everyone, of course, but it definitely does not say anywhere in the regulations that we are required to search the clothes of the examinees or anything! I am not sure if that would be legal.”

Supervisor: “But I am here to ensure the safety of this examination! This is a cheating risk we should not tolerate! She has to show me her ears!”

Me: *firmly because I have had enough of him* “No, Mr. [Supervisor], that is not how we are supposed to do this. The regulations of [Testing Company that develops the exams] say nothing about frisking students! If you want, we can discuss this matter later, but now the other examinees are waiting to start the exam. Please finish your seating plan and then we will continue with the examination!”

(I intentionally tried not to make a big deal out of this to keep everyone as calm as possible but I was fuming inside! Somehow I managed to convince him to drop the subject and the exam went about without another major incident. The woman was okay from what I could tell and I made sure he did not go too close to her again. I kind of understand his concern and the safety rules of these exams are definitely not foolproof but it would be way above my paygrade — and his, for that matter — to try and change them. That, and he definitely went about it in the worst possible way! I also informed my boss in great detail about what had happened. Needless to say, we do not work with this supervisor anymore.)

Exams That Pull An All-Nighter

, , , , , | Learning | September 28, 2019

This was some years ago. I was taking the AP exam toward the end of the day, when the fire alarm for the school went off. Who schedules a fire drill during college entrance exams? At any rate, we had to leave the building. It took so long to end the drill that by the time we got back, the amount of time allotted for the test had passed, and it was the end of the school day and we needed to go home.

But that meant we weren’t allowed to finish our exams. The Powers That Be decided that we would go home, promise not to do any studying, and pick up the test the next day.

The other schools in the district found out about this and protested. We had to sign affidavits saying we did not study overnight, did not communicate with anybody about the test, etc.

And when it was all over and done with, I got my score — a four — with an asterisk next to it:

*School reports a disturbance during examination.

When 105% Isn’t Enough

, , , , , | Related | September 25, 2019

(When I’m growing up, my dad is very strict about the grades I receive in school. He always wants to see what I get on my tests and homework, and frequently belittles me if they aren’t to his standards. During high school, I receive the highest score out of the entire class on an exam that is worth a decent portion of our grade. I get 100% on the exam, plus 5 extra credit points. My teacher even praises me on how well I did because the average of the rest of the class is a C. Elated, I can’t wait to show my dad how well I did. This is what happens when he gets home from work.)

Dad: “Did you get your exam back yet?”

Me: *beaming* “Yes!” *hands him my exam* “I got the highest score in the whole class!”

Dad: *barely glances at it* “Anything you could have done better?”

Me: “I… I got 100 %. Plus all of the extra credit, so actually 105%. There was nothing more I could have done. Most of the class only got Cs. A few got Bs. I’m the only one who got everything correct.”

Dad: “Well, I’m sure there was something you could have done better.”

Me: “But I got the highest grade! I thought you’d be proud of me.”

(He just walked away from me and I was crushed. He completely broke my spirit and unfortunately, I pretty much gave up on trying so hard in my classes anymore because I figured that if I was going to get the same response from him no matter what grade I got, it wasn’t worth it anymore.)

In America, We Don’t Use Telepathy To Pass Tests

, , , , , | Learning | September 20, 2019

(I work at a language testing center for people wishing to immigrate to the United States for either academics or work. On this particular testing day, my class is filled with candidates testing for workplace language fluency. The test consists of a reading booklet and a separate sheet — like a scantron — for recording answers.)

Me: “You have five minutes left. Please remember to transfer your answers to the answer sheet if you haven’t already done so.”

(Five minutes pass.)

Me: “That is the end of this test segment. Please put down your pencils and wait for your exams to be collected.”

(I walk around the room.)

Random Lady: “EXCUSE ME!” *waves at me frantically*

(Rushing to her before she blurts out answers, I respond in a hushed whisper.)

Me: “Yes?”


Me: “Um… Well, the test is over now, so we aren’t allowed to let you continue writing.”

Random Lady: “WHAT?! BUT MY ANSWERS ARE UP HERE IN MY HEAD!” *violently stabs her forehead with the eraser side of her pencil* “AND NOT ON THE PAPER! Do you think the examiner will know what I meant even though I didn’t write it?!”

Me: “Umm… No, ma’am, I’m sorry. If you left it blank, the examiners won’t know your answers.”

Random Lady: “Why not?!”

Me: *pause* “Because they cannot read your mind…?” 


Me: “I did let you write them. You’ve had the past hour to write them down. I’m sorry…”

Random Lady: “But I was thinking. Have you never thought a thought before?!”

Me: “…”