Write more, guess less

Students (and maybe even some teachers) groaned when as they saw this headline. Students hate papers because all the analysis, writing and editing that goes into a receiving an A is difficult. Teachers hate papers because they require more effort to grade as opposed to a multiple-choice test.

Despite the above, I’m a heretic in that I love (or more appropriately, hate less than multiple choice) essays.

This began freshman year. The first subject my Global Themes class tackled was religion. By the end of the unit, we were focusing on contemporary religious conflicts. In the form of a project, we were supposed to pick a conflict, do research and then write an essay.

Upon hearing this plan, I with the rest of my class groaned (like you are now). This wouldn’t be fun.

It wouldn’t be fun. But I can say that I’m glad we did this as opposed to a test.

If my teacher had chosen a test, the following would’ve happened. We would’ve been told the content, studied, taken the test and forgotten everything a second later.

But since we were doing an essay, there was a lot of self-teaching. We were supposed to apply the concepts our teacher had taught us in exploration of contemporary issues. With an essay, it’s not about knowing, but understanding content so that you can draw parallels.

This is a rigorous process. But then the information I learned is almost permanent in my mind. I still understand causes and effects of the Jammu and Kashmir conflict.

This brings into question whether we learn for a test or learn for learning. Through programs like No Child Left Behind, there is heavy emphasis on standardized testing with little consideration of analysis.

In Sweden, multiple-choice is almost never used. It happens to have one of the best educational systems. Clearly, essays are better form of knowledge acquisition.

So if we want to solve our world problems, we ought to analyze rather than pick between “a” and “b.”