20/11/2018
Dieuwe de Boer
Opinion
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A Trivial Matter

Disaster has struck as members of Generation Snowflake have had to sit their end of year Level 3 NCEA exams. Last year, students melted into tears due to a difficult maths exam, but this year students complained that the history exam contained a difficult word.

Year 13 students are worried they might fail their history exam because they didn’t know what the word “trivial” meant.

It's a bit of a worry when one word used in one question is the difference between passing and failing, especially a word as insignificant as trivial.

Students sitting the NZQA Level 3 History causes and consequences paper on Wednesday were confronted with the word in a quote from Julius Caesar: “Events of importance are the result of trivial causes.”

Students were asked to analyse the extent to which they agreed or disagreed with Caesar, with reference to the causes and consequences of a historical event.

One seemingly harmless word has stupefied the next generation to an extent where they have to demand, via electronic petition, that their interpretation of the words of Julius Caesar be recognised as if they were the very words of Caesar himself.

The entitlement disease developed by millennials has mutated and infected the next generation.

Taieri College student Logan Stadnyk is one of those who sat the paper and signed the petition …

Some of his peers thought trivial meant “significant”, he said.

Evil is good; darkness is light; and bitter is sweet.

Did the teachers put the students back in their place and help prepare them for some of the harsher realities of life?

Chairman of the New Zealand History Teachers’ Association, Graeme Ball, agreed.

He called the exam a “little bit of a snafu” on the part of NZQA, and said the language used in questions should be “accessible to all”.

I must admit my ignorance at not knowing the definition of "snafu", but I could easily deduce its meaning from the context. After looking it up to determine its origin, I am a little concerned that "snafu" is expected to be in one's conversational vocabulary, while "trivial" is not.

The exam was not testing comprehension, so it was “unfair” to make that part of the assessment, he said.

Comprehension is an integral part of any exam. Being able to comprehend the question is a prerequisite to answering it, else one could plead ignorance and score full marks every time by simply answering your own questions rather than the asked questions.

It was “debatable”, he said. “I don’t think we can make assumptions about what students should and shouldn’t know at that level,” he said.

If you have children in any of these government schools, take them and run.

Can we find any consolation in the hope that the petition, with nearly 3,000 signatures on it, has been ignored by NZQA?

Attention all supporters. NZQA has proclaimed that misinterpretations will not be failed or marked down! We have won. Good Luck to all

- John Anonymous

Dare I ask if things can get any worse?

This is hot on the heels of a primary school cancelling part of its end of year prizegiving, with the principal sending out the following in a newsletter:

The end of year prizegiving was used to award children in each class:

  • Most improved
  • Commitment to Learning
  • Classroom Citizen
  • Excellence in Literacy and Mathematics

Out of a class of 20 to 30 children how does a teacher choose one child for each award?

Don’t we want all our children to improve, have commitment to learning, show citizenship and to have excellence in literacy and mathematics. By rewarding a few we find that it discourages the others

That's right comrades, competition discourages self-improvement. This is why all those pesky little capitalist countries failed and we now live under a glorious global communist regime.

As a hypothetical future Julius Caesar might say about the impending catastrophic collapse of our society, events of importance are the result of trivial causes.