Education is a pain, literally

Published November 19, 2008

I’ve just finished the second of two exams this week. I’m pretty sure I failed both of them, but that’s okay. In fact, I’m really happy about it because I now know at least one path I don’t want my career to take.

The reason for this post, however, is because of the severe cramp I have in my right hand. My exams have always tended to be a lot about numbers, and today I sat a paper that was more about theory. This afternoon, I wrote at least ten pages of A4 sized paper… with a pen.

I don’t remember the last time I had to write anything like that much. I make notes constantly, I buy notebooks and I like to write but this is excessive. Aren’t exams supposed to test your knowledge not the strength of your hand?

I wrote solidly for two hours, and then I couldn’t write anymore. I just couldn’t. My fingers were sore, my joints were aching. By the end, I felt like I was drunk. Have you ever tried to write when you’re drunk? Your brain knows exactly what it wants the paper to end up like, but there’s some kind of communication error before your shaky fingers start to work. It usually ends up a mess. I wonder whether the examiners will notice that the writing at the start of the paper looks nothing like that on the last few pages. I hope they will make some allowance for that, and not assume that I brought someone with me in my pocket.

I don’t understand why we have to write this stuff down. How many jobs entail writing a report manually these days? It would make so much more sense to do all this work on computers. How hard would it be to set up a room full of netbooks and do it all on the screen. It might be an initial investment, but it would save on all that paper, all that security and all the time spent filling in my name and candidate number. Just type it once and let the computer do the rest.

I know a lot of people say that typing on those netbooks can be uncomfortable. We have an Eee PC but I’ve not used it extensively enough to know. All I can say is I’d prefer small keyboard woes to the pen-shaped indents on my fingers.

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