“I have a dream”…that every little boy and every little girl will be able to overthrow the stresses of finals week and be able to live their lives in peace. Indeed, the notorious finals week is dated the Tuesday immediately after Martin Luther King Jr. Day. And like with all other holidays, MLK Day is more celebrated as the last day of cramming for the two hour finals among Dougherty Valley students than the significance of the event itself.
Finals do have its merits in reviewing and impacting the information over the course of the past few months. For those who have a crazily good memory or are just really fast (re)learners, finals week may not be such a big deal. It’s a week when the days are only from 9:00am – 1:15am; it may even seem like a paradise.
I acknowledge that teachers do put in substantial effort to help students achieve. Teachers do spend the weeks before finals reviewing information and state plainly that if anybody needs any help, they are available. Exam Jam in the library provides a more personal teaching style than just a class setting.
However, the fact remains that finals bring additional stress to the already hectic lives of Dougherty Valley students. In addition to the several hours of homework per day are the several hours of studying per day. Finals are weighed so heavily that students are simply afraid to fail. A grade teetering on the edge between an A and a B or a B and a C and so on, threaten to collapse. RogerHub and the Final Grade Calculator suddenly becomes everyone’s best friend. Instead of having finals viewed as something positive, or as something to verify knowledge, it’s viewed as the bane of every student’s existence. The stress just seems to be mounting higher and higher.
The solution? I’m not sure if there is a single, clear-cut solution. Perhaps having finals week before Winter Break would be more beneficial than having it right before the end of the semester. First, because all information retained from the beginning of the year suddenly disappears over the two week break. But more importantly, it would relieve the nagging thoughts: Just after this joyous holiday season, there are finals or, I can’t afford a break, I need to study. Another option could be that instead of a strictly multiple-choice scantron sheet, a creative project that envelops the same information would be assigned. This project could promote qualities outside of just test-taking.
Dougherty Valley has a culture of filling in bubble sheets and guessing-and-checking; real life does not have tests or choices A, B, C, D, or E. Real life emphasizes determination, creativeness, communication, and freedom. Real life emphasizes the need to follow dreams. When finals week comes to an end, students at Dougherty Valley are able to break the chains of additional stress and work. As for what they’ll be thinking: “Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”