Tuesday, August 3, 2010

All of the above

In my 8th grade gym class, we had learned the rules of basketball. We were expected to know these rules so well, we were even given a test. Now, you may ask, how do you take a written test in gym class. The answer? We would lay on our bellies with pencils provided by the teacher and use the floor as a desk top. I'm sure it looked odd to anyone passing by.
One of the questions was, "What are the two major defenses?" One of our less than bright (but large and strong) classmates answered, "Nuclear and Atomic." (You can't make this stuff up)
But to be fair, it was the early 80's and in the middle of the cold war, so the threat of nuclear war was on everyone's mind. However, it did introduce me to the concept of learning how to be a good test taker.
Often in college, I spent more time figuring out what the teacher wanted, and less time trying to understand the material. I could memorize facts and such, but applying that knowledge was a different matter.
One of my required classes for my Communications / Broadcasting Degree was learning about public relations. My teacher was a professional PR person and missed many of the classes she should have taught. In her place, she had her teaching assistant pinch hit. In preparing for our first test of the semester, the TA had an after class study session. I took advantage of it because I could really care less about PR--I was learning to become a TV director, so my heart wasn't in the subject matter.
The TA went over each question, and told us the things to study to answer the questions correctly. This was a level 400 class for seniors, so it was pretty intense. Before the test, I studied and reviewed, and studied and reviewed some more. I went into the test feeling pretty confident.
The next class, our main teacher stormed into the room and slammed her books on the table. Her opening line was, "Do you all think this class is a joke?"
With wide eyes, we all looked at each other, wondering what she was talking about. "You all failed the test! Didn't any of you take this seriously?" We couldn't help but notice our TA wasn't there that day.
One of my classmates spoke up, "I don't understand. How could we all fail it?" She huffed back, "Well, that is what we are going to find out."
She then proceeded to hand back our tests. My guess is that she must have worn out several red pens in grading them. As we started going over the test, the teacher would read the question, and then explain the answer. The odd thing was that the answer didn't resemble what the TA had taught us.
After half a dozen or so questions, with various people pointing out that isn't what the TA had taught us, she finally threw her hands up in the air and demanded, "Well, you are you going to believe? Me or the TA?"
It was my turn to speak up for the class. My response? "Honestly, I didn't think we had to choose--or was that part of the test?"

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