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What statement is present in the spoken word poem, "I Will Not Let An Exam Result...

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user9879209 | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 1) Honors

Posted May 28, 2013 at 8:18 AM via web

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What statement is present in the spoken word poem, "I Will Not Let An Exam Result Decide My Fate"?


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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted May 28, 2013 at 10:51 AM (Answer #1)

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The original question needed to be edited.  Suli Breaks' poem/ rap is a statement about the current context of education.  The refrains of "We will not let exam results decide our fate" or "Why I hate school, but love education" speak to the present sentiment that many students feel regarding the disconnect between institutional schooling and a love of education.  Breaks' work constructs a statement that there is a hypocrisy in so much of the social and political order and that school is a part of this.  He talks about social orders that "say abortion is wrong, but look down on teenage parents," and governments "that preach peace, but endorse wars."  This same hypocritical tendency is evident in parents who "want educated kids, but then marvel at how rich Richard Branson is." In this vein, Breaks makes the argument that "Exams are society's methods of telling you what you're worth."  It is in this light where Breaks' work speaks powerfully in the idea that exams are another form of social control that enables that the individual does not critically assess and examine institutional notions of the good, but rather internalizes it, often accepting failure for something flawed from the very start.

The statement in the poem is an empowering one for students and all learners.  The idea that external reality determines an individual's worth is where exam results and high stakes standardized assessment has rendered education.  For years, students and stakeholders have accepted this, as if to make a causal connection between success on exams and state tests with the notion of learning.  In the end, this is the system that Breaks wishes to indict.  The notion of learning in its purest form is so organic and brimming with life that a static test cannot reveal it.  For Breaks, the statement is that students recognize that exam performance do not reflect intelligence or success in learning:

We all have different abilities, thought processes, experiences and genres
So why is a class full of individuals tested by the same means?
So that means Cherrelle thinks she's dumb, because she couldn't do a couple sums
And if this issue is not addressed properly, it then becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy

In this, there is an empowering statement about what it means to learn and how students should understand the condition of testing as a modern reality but not one that should "decide one's fate."

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