This went on for the rest of the semester. Sometimes the kids compared their notes, sometimes they argued amongst themselves. Other times they asked for outside help, most times they asked the teacher.
Before long, it was time to take the final exam, and with this, the mark that would determine who would graduate. Both kids were prepared, at least, as prepared as one could be. They both sat up late, compared notes and exchanged information. They both felt as good and as ready as one could be.
The exam material was to cover all the topics that they had been taught throughout, and the final question was a combination of all the things they had learned and practiced through homework and mid-year tests. If one was paying attention, this exam would be simple enough to breeze through. Both kids were pretty sure about their high scores. They were good listeners, diligent note-takers, practiced and discussed amongst themselves.
The exam started off easy enough. They simply asked the student “what did you learn about…” by providing questions and multiple-choice answers. Any kid who went to class and took notes, would have read this information and thus easily provided the correct answers.
The questions then became open-ended, leaving room to write the answers, as opposed to picking from choices a, b, c, d, and e. For the kids who were diligent note-takers, this was their time to shine, they were able to fill up every line.
The last question was on the course in general, and its application to every-day life. Here again was an open-ended question, with plenty of space for results. Once more, the kids all filled out their exam papers, and once completed, happily handed them in.
Marks were released a few weeks later, and each kid was able to pick up his/her marked paper from the teacher. The teacher said a few things before handing over the marked papers:
“I was looking for those who heard and grasped the material. I was looking for those who applied the grasped material. I am looking for the student who applies what is learned, for that is the student with the A.
“If you demonstrated that you heard and grasped all the material, yet failed to show its complete application at the end of the paper, you failed. You did not apply everything that you heard and received as was instructed, but chose what you wanted to apply for yourself. You failed because you showed that you have the capacity and ability to carry out to fruition what was taught to you, yet you chose not to.
“If you demonstrated partial knowledge in the first part, and this knowledge is evident in the last part where you fully applied what you were able to grasp, you passed. You in fact took what you received and applied it fully. You have pleased me.
“If you heard and grasped all, and applied it all in the last part, you have pleased me. You were not only paying attention, but you were actively listening. You believed me, and you believed that you would be able to apply the lessons practically in your life, thus believing in yourself.”
The two boys turned and stared at each other hard. They suddenly weren’t so sure if they had passed.