When you’re a kid at school or a student at university, your least favourite part of the year is exam time. Most of us dread it, others fear it and some actually don’t mind it (if you fall into the last category I have a theory that you are actually superhuman and/or should be locked in a padded room). However, what you don’t realise is that teachers dislike this time of year just as much as you do. “But why?!” I hear you cry across the vast digital expanses of the internet, “Teachers don’t have to teach, they just set exams and then take pleasure in watching us squirm!” It is true that there are advantages to exam-time for teachers, chief among them are the opportunity to set a really tough paper that you know will be excruciating for each of the 120 minutes and the fact that you don’t need to actually cajole the kids into learning anything.
Despite these advantages, there is one thing that outweighs them all: exam invigilation. It’s just like water-boarding except without the cling-wrap or water and you aren’t tied-up or experiencing any trauma, but otherwise it’s exactly the same. It could also be likened to that thing they do to a naked James Bond with the chair and the rope and the swinging in Casino Royale…shudder.
“But Luke, surely it can’t be that bad! You must be exaggerating.” As long as you discount my natural tendency towards hyperbole it is that bad. Imagine being stuck in a room with stinky teenagers. Now imagine that they are silently writing an exam. Now imagine that you are not allowed to do marking, read, knit, work on a computer or do any other activity except ‘be vigilant.’ Now imagine that you need to pace up and down the classroom the entire time. That is invigilation.
Essentially, when you’re invigilating it is dead time, you are not allowed to be productive or do anything. So the next time you are in an exam (which, thankfully, most of us will never have to face again) or see a friend who is a teacher, say “Hey! Thank you for sacrificing your sanity so that kids can write exams!” and offer them a hich-five which, as we all know, is universal sign language for ‘You rock!’