Monday, February 20, 2012

Word of the Day

We have come to that time of the semester where I am forced to give tests. I don’t really like giving tests. In fact, I hate giving tests. It seems to me that they never really adequately measure a student's grasp of the material over which they are being tested. Tests merely give a somewhat accurate reading of how well students holds up under the pressure of a testing environment. That said, I have to give tests. The powers that be really don’t like it if at the end of the semester I turn in a blank grade sheet!

So, I reluctantly give tests. My tests and I have a reputation. The specific details of that reputation depend on to whom you are speaking. Those students that have had classes with me for several semesters will tell you that my tests are f#@&!ing hard. (They may or may not be correct in their assessment.) To those for whom this is our first semester together, that first test day is soiree into the great unknown. Most of these fledgling music theory students, however, don’t worry too much about this first test because I tell them, like I tell all of my students before all of their tests, that the test will be open notes. They all breathe a huge sigh of relief and immediately scratch studying for their upcoming music theory test off of their “to-do” lists. If my students learn nothing else in my classes, they do learn that not pulling their notes together and studying is a big mistake!

Here are the guidelines for my open-note tests:

  • You may use only your notes ion test day. Though the Care Bears teach that “sharing is caring”, there is an exception to every rule. If you are sure that the cute girl beside you takes better notes than you do then take her out for a cookie and cup of coffee a night or two before the test and ask nicely to copy her notes. If she declines, you have that much more time to beef up your own notes.

  • All accessible notes on test day must be on paper. Translation: No phones, computers, or other electronic devices may be used in class on the day of the test.

  • You are allowed no lifelines. You may not talk to any other person during the test - not the person next to you, in front of you, in back of you or across the room from you - for any reason. Any communication, other than silent prayer, makes grading your test quite simple - no mathematical operations will be invoked in the calculating of your test grade.

Having iterated and reiterated these conditions for the past three class periods leading up to today’s test, I had a student, for whom this is our first semester together, show up for our first test together without his notes. After a sigh of frustration at having failed to bring his notebook, he resigned himself to the fact that he would have to rely on the “notes in his head.”

I quipped, “Oh, you’ll be using noggin-notes.” I the added that perhaps they should be called “my-noggin-notes.” Or should it be “monogginotes?” Both have validity.

Mynogginotes is fairly straight forward. My noggin notes are the notes in my head.

Monogginotes uses the prefix “mono” referring to the one set of notes that reside in one head.

I have spent way too much time today pondering this linguistic conundrum. If only that student had remembered to bring his notes both of our noggins would have been much less burdened.

Which word do you think is most appropriate - mynogginotes or monogginotes? This is not a test so lifelines are allowed!