Breach of contract

It seems like a lifetime ago now that I tried to negotiate a learning contract with my stage II students. What a lovely idea that was, at the time: “Make it fun!”, and “Be Proud”. Hah!

This morning, those students have taken their programming exam. It was not pleasant. I’m told some were seen crying afterwards. I felt as if their faces were saying “you’ve not prepared us for this”. Maybe it was just in my mind. But I didn’t feel proud of the preparation I’ve given them. I’ve done my best to teach them to program. Why? I knew what the exam was going to be like: define this,
explain what you understand by that, list the other.

And this afternoon they came back into the same room for their final Continuous Assessment Test (CAT). As they completed their tests they came to the front and left them in a pile on my desk before leaving the room. Some wanted to put their work in the middle of the pile. Not sure what the logic of that was, but I told them to put them on the top and those who didn’t I fished out and put there myself. Even managed to get a smile from one of them that way.

They’d tried and tried to get extra time for the exam. I ended up having to be firm to the point of nasty with one of them to start collecting the scripts. For the CAT I decided to just wait for the pile to be complete. The last lady to leave the room was the same one who had added “Make it fun!” to the learning contract (I remember that kind of thing). She started put her papers in the middle of the pile. I smiled:
“On top please”, I said. She put it on top and I added: “Be proud of your work, always”.

I felt hypocritical: I don’t feel proud of that course this term. At lunch time, after the exam, I felt like running away somewhere in denial. The equivalent, perhaps, of hiding my work in the middle of the stack.

I turned the words over in my mind as I left the room and something clicked: I remembered that first lesson. I came straight here to check what it actually said. I think both sides might not have lived up to the terms of the contract.

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