Would you cheat on your Personal Trainer?

Imagine yourself at the gym, when your Personal Trainer asks you to do a certain exercise (like push-ups, sit-ups, squats…). However, you notice that the Personal Trainer is distracted, would you try to deceive your Personal Trainer by saying that you did it, while in fact you were resting?

Do not. Because it makes no sense to deceive you, since the main beneficiary of training is yourself. Cheating the Personal Trainer won’t get you any closer to achieving what you’re looking for by going to that gym.

Now imagine a math class, whether in Basic Education or Higher Education. The teacher works on a content for a certain period and then gives each student a test, the answer sheet and asks them to take the test at home within a week, correct it based on the answer sheet and bring it back the following week with the grade they received. each got. Do you trick your teacher by copying answers from the answer sheet, or giving yourself a high score regardless of whether your answers are actually right?

In this situation morality can lead us to say that we would not do this… but the temptation seems to exist, right? So, the question that I bring to you, the reader, is, what makes this situation different from the math test with that of gym training?

We’re not going to lie, the situation looks very different yes XD

Let’s propose another situation to better understand this problem. His math teacher at the prep course asks the class to solve previous tests of an exam and to bring questions to him in class. Does it make sense to simply copy the answers from these exams and tell the professor that there are no questions?

(I’ll copy part of the answer used in the Personal Trainer case) No. Because it makes no sense to deceive you, since the main beneficiary of training is yourself. Cheating the teacher won’t get you any closer to achieving what you’re looking for by attending that course.

Now looking at these three cases, what changes?

The whole issue seems to revolve around the lack of meaning for what is being done in the math class, while at the same time there is a charge to present a certain performance. If this charge does not exist, we arrive at the situation of the course or the academy. The moment getting a high grade is difficult, it has a purpose of its own. An example is an excerpt from the song by Gabriel o Pensador from 1995, called “Estudo Errado”.

Manhê! Tirei um dez na prova
Me dei bem tirei um cem e eu quero ver quem me reprova
Decorei toda lição
Não errei nenhuma questão
Não aprendi nada de bom
Mas tirei dez (boa filhão!)
Quase tudo que aprendi, amanhã eu já esqueci
Decorei, copiei, memorizei, mas não entendi

In this song it is evident that the objective of learning can be confused with the objective of getting a good grade. So we arrive at the crux of this discussion, is getting good grades the same as learning? In theory it should be, but in practice it is not!

This is because several factors can lead you to get a good grade, you can be good at memorizing, you can be good at cheating, you can be lucky to study the exact content that was going to be on the test… as well as several factors can make you lead to learning and not having a good grade, such as your memory not being good, confusing notations, taking more time than available to answer the test, not sleeping well, not eating well, suffering from anxiety when being evaluated, or just having a bad day.

But then we arrive at the funniest point of this discussion, if we don’t apply the tests during the classes, how can we be sure that the students will be honest when solving them? The answer is that we won’t be sure, and I don’t see that as a problem.

You want to get the maximum grade when you need it for something, or when getting it is a difficult task, or when it is a condition for you to pass a course. But if you can control this note, we’ve exhausted the insecurity of not getting it. You can simply determine whether or not you consider yourself able to move on to the next course subject. Similar to the course teacher asking if you have any questions about Matrices or if you want to move on to the next content? The main beneficiary of this is the student himself. If he does not see a real need for this discipline for his training, ok, it was offered, and he said he understood… if this will have consequences as a professional in the future, the question is that he himself was not honest when saying that he had understood . This might sound a little strange, but it’s analogous to someone who is good at cheating on tests.

I think the main question that remains is would this method work for students to learn? If with this freedom to take the test and honestly self-evaluate, students would come to learn the contents. For this, the answer lies with the student himself, if he considers it necessary to learn, he will learn… a comparison is to think of the inclusion of mandatory fencing classes with rigorous tests. We would see students of all courses and grades studying fencing in depth, not necessarily because they think it’s cool to learn about fencing, but because they are expected to do well on assessments. If they knew, for example, that the evaluators only consider practical aspects of fencing, then they would stop studying the theoretical aspects, or the opposite. Rigorous charging through tests would thus end up directing their learning towards the goal of achieving good scores.

Anyway, soon (if nothing goes terribly wrong) I’m going to take over as professor of mathematics/statistics at the Federal Institute of Rio de Janeiro :3 and I intend to give weekly evaluations accompanied by feedbacks, so that students can do them at home and bring them corrected next week. I hope it works, but in any case, if now that I’m about to take up the teaching position I don’t try different methods, I’ll be resigning myself to reproducing the situation described in the song “Estudo Errado”.

To close this essay on math exams/tests, I see that the precious time and space shared between teachers and students in the math classroom should be used for learning and teaching math. We can measure our “rankings” ourselves by simulating the conditions in which standardized exams are carried out, such as college entrance exams, knowledge olympiads or public contests.

Cover image credits to tjevans by Pixabay

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