Saturday, May 29, 2004

Invigilation Blues

It's examinations time in the U.K. and no doubt some readers will be wondering how they are going to cope with the three-hour stint of invigilation. I had missed this earlier this week, but I caught a mention of this news item on Have I Got News for You? on BBC1 and so looked it up. Here it is in BBC News On-line:

Teachers reveal exam hall games
Teachers have revealed some of the tricks they use to avoid boredom during exams - including pencil-sharpener races and spotting the ugliest pupil in the hall.

I am lucky this year and haven't had to do any invigilation. (The usual arrangement here is that most members of academic staff will do at least one stint of invigilation each summer). I usually cope with it by making sure I have an idea to work on during the three hours, something that actually requires some sustained, uninterrupted thinking. I remember once planning a book while invigilating; another time I chewed over an element in the Synoptic Problem until I'd cracked it to my satisfaction. It serves as a useful reminder to me that sometimes too much reading and writing can obscure some free thinking.

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