An open letter to New Zealand students - you are bigger than any exam!
Well, today marks the day that many of you will have experienced the first high stakes external exam of the 2018 NCEA exam season and whilst I do wish you all the best, I also want you to know that you are bigger than any NCEA exam.
An exam is defined by the Collins Dictionary as a formal test that you take to show your knowledge or ability in a particular subject, or to obtain a qualification.
I would rather focus on what an exam is not:
It is not a measure of if you are bright.
It is not a measure of your potential.
It is not a measure of your worth, either now or in the future.
It is not a measure of your ability to learn, unlearn and relearn.
It is not a measure of your ability to communicate.
It is not a measure of your ability to collaborate.
It is not a measure of your ability to research.
It is not a measure of your creativity.
It is not a measure of your curiosity.
It is not a measure of your willingness to take risks.
It is not a measure of your kindness.
It is not a measure of your empathy.
It is not a measure of your freakin' fabulousness!
In fact there is a good chance that any one exam fails to measure anything that is really important in this day and age. It certainly does not measure the skills and capabilities you will need to thrive in our rapidly changing world.
Remember, an exam is simply a formal test, measuring a very particular body of knowledge or skills tested in a really weird and artificial way. It is but one little way to show your ability and but one way you can work towards a qualification.
This is not about discouraging you to study and to do your best. Particularly if the exam is the key to gaining entry to a particular University course or gaining your Level Two or Three NCEA Certificate (not that you need exams to get your certificate, remember you just need the 80 credits and only 60 of those at or above your certificate level). If you are doing exams - enjoy them! You should study, you should revisit your learning, you should prepare. Enjoy the joy of learning and relearning, developing your study skills, making some notes and doing some good old fashioned memorisation.
But more importantly look after yourselves! Study well, eat well, sleep well and make time to go outside and get some very real perspective about the exams you are doing being a snapshot capturing a very very small part of who you are and what you are capable of.
Remember, an exam is simply an exam and no matter what happens this exam season:
You are bright.
You have so much potential.
You have so much worth, now and in the future.
You have the ability to learn, unlearn and relearn.
You have the ability to communicate.
You have the ability to collaborate.
You have the ability to research.
You have creativity.
You have curiosity.
You have the ability to to take risks.
You have the ability to show kindness.
You have the ability to grow empathy.
You are absolutely freakin' fabulousness!
And remember you are bigger and better than any exam or exam result.
Noho ora mai,