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Exams

Love and Honor? More like neglect and degradation.

You open the door to the classroom, there are a couple of people already seated, but you’re among the first to enter. So you take a seat in the front row, right in front of the professors’ podium, eager to learn.

As people continue shuffling in, the professor begins to speak.

“Welcome, everybody. This class is The Fundamentals of Woodworking class–I hope you’re all in the right place.”

You nervously shuffle, excited for the class to begin. The professor starts by introducing The Hammer and Nail. The professor lectures on and on for the next couple of weeks about how to grip the hammer, position the hammer, and strike the hammer. And then, finally, the exam rolls around. And you’re told that during the exam, the professor expects you to hammer the nail with your hand.

Confused, you ask, “Isn’t the point of the Hammer, and this class, to use the tools to, you know, actually experience where and how professionals perform woodworking?” And you think further, when it’s so easy to build things nowadays, why would anyone think exams are better for learning than actually building things?

The professor replies, “Yes, yes, and you learn the fundamentals of woodworking by not using any tools at all for the exam.”

Not having anything to respond with, you reluctantly slink back into your seat. But the question still lingers, “what is the point of this?”

The exam finally rolls around, and the professor explains that you will take the exam in your abode, but you’ll have to install some software so the professor can “monitor you as you take high-stakes exams.” Also, the exam will be at 8:00 PM.

After reading the fine print, you notice that the software requires a microphone and camera. That seems a bit strange, you think. You read further. The software records everything it can get its hands on. Your camera, audio, screens, downloads, connected devices, browser applications and extensions, browser privacy settings, clicks, keyboard strokes, mouse movement, copy/pastes, and window resizes. Furthermore, it tracks head movement, eye movement, the number of faces in view, and more.

What the hell?

You read the exam description and notice the professor wrote, “If for any reason your webcam or microphone doesn’t work during the exam, it will be zero for you.”

I just wanted to learn woodworking. These tests don’t even make any sense for learning woodworking! They’re just looking to enforce obedience!

Still, having gotten this far, the easiest way is to continue as normal. So you install the software and take a deep breath before clicking “Begin Exam.”

The exam begins, and the software immediately prompts you to lift your computer and spin it around so the software can record a snapshot of your entire area.

You grumble and attempt to lift your laptop, but it’s heavy, and you don’t see a way to spin it around without obstructing the camera easily. But eventually, it lets you take the exam anyways.

Your grumbles continue as you take the exam. Forced to hit nails with your hands over and over as you think, this is the dumbest shit I’ve ever seen. At least schools realized that physical punishment isn’t practical, not like this is any better, though.

Then suddenly, your exam window freezes. “What‽” You exclaim right before the software kicks you out of the exam. “FUCK, what is this‽” You see a button to chat with software support and click it.

A little bubble appears with the text, “Hello, my name is Amanda, how can I help you?”

“Hi, my exam just suddenly froze and wouldn’t let me continue.”

“Hm. I see. Give me one moment while I refresh your test for you.”

“Ok. Thank you.”

After a few minutes pass, you’re able to click “Begin Exam” again. You click it, and thankfully your answers are saved. But you’ve still wasted 10 minutes and have to rush to finish.

Luckily, the class is simple, and you don’t have too much trouble pushing through. But you know that any mistakes will be dumb ones that wouldn’t happen in real work because, in real work, you use tools.

Taking a moment of silence for the students who don’t know the material as well as you do but are subject to the same enforcement, you look at the timer. 00:59 seconds remain. You take a deep breath and grumble, “love and honor my ass,” before clicking “Submit.”