Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Dear Marker, Please be Nice to my Soul.

Dear Alberta Education Marker,

Tomorrow all of us English 30-1 Students are going to be submitting a correctly formatted piece of our souls for evaluation.

Perhaps you don't see the three hour exam for the monster it is because you have already paid your high school and university dues. However, you too are affected by the emotional destruction caused by diploma exams: you have become desensitised. It will not occur while reading dozens of essays and personal responses that in your hands you hold the entire future of a student.

Every university requires English 30 as a prerequisite. But that will not matter. All that does is the use of proper grammar and appropriate choice of literature details. When I open up the darkest part of myself to demonstrate my understanding of a text, you will not be seeing it with empathy but as the result of literary devices used to create mood.

While I write I shall pry apart my ribcage and allow the words to flow out in the rhythm of a heart beat. I will use figurative language to persuade you to think I'm smart. I will mention specific details that will impress you, but only in a distant way, because to you I am words on a page. Little do you know my guts are spread on the pages you read. But you don't know me, and you don't know what I'm capable of. You don't expect a northern girl to kick your exam's ass. You will see my paper as a number, mark it with an unfeeling hand only to throw it back into a pile of a hundred others.

Writing is ripping out bits of ourselves then trying to make sense of it on paper. Under what circumstance should this be allowed in a system that is suppose to teach children about the merits of literature? All that results of a English Diploma exams are overtired, stressed teenagers who are bleeding on the inside from pouring the continence of their hearts into a paper that might only get them a sixty. How is it possible to submit students to emotional warfare, then have educators wonder why kids drop out of high school?

It is unfair and immoral to force someone to relive a moment of "great loss", then to ask them to structure it so that strangers can deem their experiences "pertinent to the topic". Art is subjective, and reflects the creator no matter how analytical the piece may be. Students take it as a character fault when they create art only to have it rejected.

Yeah, I get the whole "But we're just as good as them" reaction when kids in the communities get their exam scores. After all, it's hard to imagine what is going on in Alberta and it's reassuring to know we're able to measure up. That still leaves the problem of the almost alien scores though, as they are created by mysterious beings far away from earth it seems. If a student gets one hundred percent of sixty, how do they know when they succeeded and when they had difficulties if they are not allowed to see their paper again?

Anyways, I hope dear Marker that you can be kind with the pieces of soul heading off your way in the near future.

Live Long and Prosper,

Arctic Hipster

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