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I hate tick-boxes. I always have.

They’re so restrictive. All that is required is a quick scan of the question and a simple, unimaginative flourish of a biro. I understand that sometimes they’re necessary, to fill in forms for medical needs or application: tick-boxes make it fast and easy. But are they really needed for education purposes? I don’t think so. Exams, tests, essays all contain hidden tick-boxes that every pupil needs to tick in order to get a high grade.

For English: to get a low grade you must include at least one metaphor, simile and a quote. To get a high grade you must include at least 3 metaphors, 2 similes, a quote to back up every point you make and a thorough analysis for a character or setting related to the exam. The other subjects (apart from maths, which just needs a correct answer, although even in this basic subject, working out is needed for extra marks) follow in a similar pattern. In my opinion, English is for creativity, not for order. Of course, it would be hard to mark English without this tick-box system, but is it necessary for such limiting methods to be placed?

Even in subjects such as art and music – entirely based on originality and imagination – tick-boxes are needed. For example, for an art exam, you would need to include the name of the artist who inspired this piece, their date of birth and historical reference, simply for a low pass. A higher grade would require much more detail of the techniques used and the different styles from artists around the globe. Apparently, even if you are the next Picasso, but are unfortunate enough to suffer from severe dyslexia which could prevent you from concluding your drawing with a detailed explanation, the examiner will give you a low result. Doesn’t that seem unfair to you?

Just one tick-box that was invisible to your eyes could be the difference between a pass and a fail. What about your own style? The effort and creativity of the work, whether a drawing, a piece of music, or an essay will be ignored. “It’s about quality, not quantity,” is something teachers remind pupils daily, but I’m beginning to think that quantity is being assessed more the quality. “Say what you need to say, say it, and say it again,” is the approach that teenagers are using nowadays to pass exams, as it obviously shows the examiner that they understand, though in actual fact, they’ve just memorised something from a textbook and jumbled up the sentence order. Is this really the next generation that will be in charge of the world in years to come?

I understand that tick-boxes are needed, but they’re compressing the youth of today, forcing them to be identical in every way and morphing them into simple-minded people. I’m not saying that we’re all stupid, not at all, but the average IQ is slowly declining. Since the nineteen fifties, the average IQ has dropped by 3 points, so where will we be in another 50 years? Using a tick-box education system isn’t benefiting anyone, so why do we use it? Because it’s easier to mark, and it represses us into being less intelligent that we could be, so the people in charge right now, will always be in charge.

So next time you come across a tick-box, whether in an exam or filling in a form, do it your own special, individual way. Tick it in a pink highlighter, or flaunt it for several extra centimeters at a slant. Just make it your own, and together, we can show that tick-boxes will not define us.



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