Reading 6: Exams

Multiple-Choice Exercise

Read the text. For questions 1-10, choose the answer (A, B, C or D) which you think fits best according to the text.


They're a lesson in life!
George Marsh, head of posh Dulwich College Preparatory School in London, probably thought he was doing kids and parents a favour with his rousing speech at the annual prep school conference this week.
He spoke of the pressures facing young people, who need to be nurtured during difficult pre-teen and teenage years. Above all, he said, we had researched a stage where the obsession with passing exams was "killing the fun" of school.
We've all read this before. We've heard of the burnout kids, pushed by ambitious parents until they're at the end of their tethers, and gasped at the stories of the hothouse floer children who feel weak and tired in the real world. We've seen the headlines. "Pressures of work too much for our teenagers", they scream. Now we have Mr. Marsh's contribution about too many horrid exams spoiling the school's broth.
In our child-obsessed society, the worst sin of all is to stop a child having "fun". It is right up there with smacking in the new millenium book of bad parenting. Children must be endlessly indulged, treated with kid gloves, escorted to amusement parks, given computer games and showered with pocket money.
They must never have a minute when they're neither protected nor enjoying themselves. Heavens forbid that they should be told to study, strive and compete - words which seem to have taken on the quality of blasphemy.
But whoever said school was meant to be fun? Yes, school is a place where a child develops and a rounded curriculum is vital. Our children should play sports, do drama, join choirs, hang out at playtimes. The rest of the time, however, they are there to learn and to achieve some basic qualifications that will, whether they want to accept it or not, cushion them when life gets really hard. Yet, in the current climate, saying that exams matter is tantamount to saying that our children should spend their teenage years at an Army boot camp.
This is the same mentality that dictates there should be no winners at sports day in case other children get upset by coming second. It's the same misguided attitude that drives parents to spray their kids with antiseptic to protect them from all known germs when actually they only end up sickly because their immune system never develops. Cosseting children in cotton wool does them few favours in the long run.
Mr. Marsh is right when he says that we should shelter our children from the pressures of growing up too soon but there is a difference between sheltering and smothering.
If he really wanted to do us all a favour in his speech, he should have told parents to get real. School can be tough and exams always are but thin so is life - and it's best that children learn that particular lesson as early as possible.
(Extract from "Don't criticise exams...", "Daily Express, 28.09.2000)