Last week, I had a leadership quiz. 20 multiple-choices, and 6 open-ended questions.
I moaned. I whined. I cursed and swore. Yet, I was still condemned to spend hours with the assigned textbook and readings, making notes by the side, and cramming every little detail (a painful process of rote memorisation and eventual regurgitation, in other words). And, at the end of the quiz, I realised that I would have answered the short-answer questions the way I did, had I not studied the prescribed “concepts and theories” at all. Tragic.
It boggles my mind that batches of students before me have gone through the same protracted, agonising, and unconstructive process, but decided that they were fine with it. Perhaps it is a sense of powerlessness, that we – as mere undergraduates – can hardly do anything beyond the end-of-semester feedback contribution. Or nonchalance (after all, in retrospect, why should one bother if he or she aces these assessments easily over the course of university). Or an acceptance of the status quo, that things have always been like this, and that the individuals in power know the best (for, this is “good for us”).
And it is not just the mode of testing that is problematic.
There are so many ways to enhance the three-hour seminars. During the previous lesson, there was a short spell of fifteen minutes, when a few of us had a meaningful discussion on business ethics. Yet in general, that willingness to disagree is sorely absent. Many are more concerned about articulating their own perspectives (class participation points, maybe), to have a one-way conversation with the professor, instead of listening to alternative viewpoints. Are we afraid to offend? Do we fear reprisals, or is it a fear of differences?
Welcome to the Business School (here), I guess.