A
question paper is a cogent tool for evaluation. It ensures whether an educational
system is helping to meet its own objectives.

It
seems a question paper has a godlike power. Anything that is justifiable to the
objectives of learning can be asked by a question paper. In the process, does
it need to be sensitive to what the students are likely to learn, what the
students are likely to consider as easy or complex? Does it need to be
sensitive to the ways teachers teach the students? Does it need to think about
the content matter teachers likely to stress during teaching? Should it be cautious
not to ask the things the teachers are not likely to stress while teaching?
Before appearing in the examination hall, need it to consider making an
impression as easy paper, difficult paper, not so easy, not so difficult,
perfect....?

If
the question paper thinks, "

*teachers are following text-book oriented teaching. Then I must not trespass its boundaries. I must stick to the patterns of questions textbook owns*", what is the scope of measuring students’ thinking skills, conceptual understanding, ability to apply concepts in different situations, ability to carry over the knowledge to similar but different situations?. Asking from a set of predetermined questions belies the very purpose of a question paper intended to measure skills beyond rote learning and memorizing.
We
Keralites dream about raising the standard of education to the international
level. This will be impossible without students mastering the above-mentioned
skills. In the coming future nobody is going o pay much attention to the marks students
scores in the board exams. The job market is after the students who excel in
the ability to apply what they learned. What they need is not mere knowledge or
information but excellent practical strategies to weave the information into
the unique fabric of different work settings. The certificate is only a proof
that the student has attended the course. It does not always ensure that his
very personality carries necessary creative impulse for applying what he has
learned to the situational demands. For example, a student who possesses a
master’s degree in literature with good grades need not promise effective
communication skills.

###
**UNSEEN PROBLEMS IN MATHEMATICS
TEACHING**

Mathematics
question paper of higher secondary board exam of Kerala state was not easy.
Almost all teachers declared it openly through social media. Some even submitted a memorandum to the concerned
authorities asking not to repeat the same mistake. Of course, they justified
their stance by precisely stating mathematically, logically reasons.

But
what is the ground reality?

At
a particular point in time, a mathematics teacher is free to choose the aspect
of teaching she wants to focus. Roughly speaking, she has three choices.

·
Facilitate conceptual understanding in mathematics

·
Facilitate procedural skills and fluency (problem-solving)

·
Facilitate application skills

It
is true that all teachers attend to these three aspects of teaching but all the
three are not grabbing an equal amount of attention from the teachers. Textbook
oriented teaching, which most teachers follow, tailors the teaching methods in
such a way to enhance procedural skills in problem-solving. Conceptual
understanding is treated only as a means or as an aide to solve a set of
pre-determined, textual, repetitive pattern of problems. Those aspects of
concepts which fit into selected problem-solving purposes are emphasized depriving
learning minds of a complete appreciation of various mathematical concepts.
Sometimes conceptual phase of teaching is restricted to teaching formulas,
mostly by rote repetition.

For
instance, teachers think, (need not exclude me) “

*what is the point of going deeper into the concept of an ellipse, parabola, hyperbola when a set of readymade formulae can meet the kind of questions text-books put forward*”. When the question paper also promises not to violate this boundary of problems, the teacher is convinced of the effectiveness of her short cut methods for teaching concepts.
When
a question paper asks something that requires integration of two or more
concepts say that of ellipse and circle the vulnerability of dead formulas
crammed into the memory of a student is exposed. Teacher and student together
declare the paper is beyond the expected level. Yes it is true. But who asked
the teachers to conduct teaching from their personal expectations? Teachers are
never expected to set boundaries for knowledge or make it rigid, distinct, dead
pieces and perpetuate the habit into teaching community.

When
a question paper demands the skill of integrating two more concepts, or the ability
to delve into the concept from different angles (other than formula applications)
from students its quite natural that we teachers who have followed text-book
oriented teaching label the question paper as difficult. Our justification is,
it is difficult for an average student to “apply” the concept he learned. With
this in mind, we set apart application level questions for bright students.
That means more than 50% of students are labeled as not capable of applying
what they learned. Its an ignominy to the entire educational system.

**MATHEMATICS NEVER TOLERATE HALF-SOLVED PROBLEMS**

Without
appreciating the beauty behind each mathematical concept how can a student fall
in love with maths? How the element of excitement in problem-solving can be
experienced by the students?

Moreover,
what does it mean by problem-solving skill?. The so-called problem-solving
skill is not the ability to solve the same pattern of problems again and
again. In reality, the skill to solve
math problem includes the ability to carry over the strategies learned for
solving a set of familiar problems to an unfamiliar terrain of problems which
are slightly different from the familiar ones in many aspects. The only thing
that empowers the student to confront problems that are familiar as well as
not-so-familiar with equanimity is his in-depth conceptual understanding.

If
the question papers of Kerala educational system allow enough space for
evaluating students' ability to think out of textbooks our educational system
for sure will be cured of its stagnancy. It will soar far high up to the levels
that we dream of.

###
**QUESTION PAPER--THE NEW SPIRITUAL
GURU OF KERALA EDUCATION SYSTEM**

It
seems only a question paper can trespass the boundaries of a textbook and
prompt the teachers to come out of their fixed ineffective ways of teaching.
The examination oriented teaching is pathologically ingrained into the mindsets
of teaching community of Kerala state that no amount of awareness programmes or
in-service courses can be helpful in transforming them in accordance with
social-educational demands of the new millennium.

Question
papers can create a classroom climate where there will be enough space to take
the learning minds through the skills the world expect from the student
population. A question paper has that power to replace rote learning by
creative, active learning. It can refashion students as seekers and
constructors of knowledge rather than passive receptors. Passive listening must
give way to active questioning in the learning atmosphere. Question papers can elicit this culture
inside the classroom. In gist, it has the power to revolutionalize the entire
classroom teaching. Year after year it can confirm the objectives which the
classrooms of the new millennium are expected to accomplish. It is a powerful
tool for making the possibilities into reality little by little.

Hey question paper,
never be intimidated by the altercations and cries from teachers to come back
and settle down into your old ineffective ways. Our students must grow. What we
need is not an illusion of growth. We want to make it a reality.
by:

**Dr. Jeny Rapheal**