AT the present time, when the bulk of the educated population of many countries may be divided into the three classes of Examinandi, Examinati, and Exaininatores, a large part of any discussion of what is called the higher education must inevitably be devoted to the question of examinations. Usually, if the matter is discussed from the point of view of those whose business it is to teach, the result is the condemnation of examinations in general as unfavourable to all thorough study; and, from whatever quarter the discussion proceeds, it seems to be taken for granted that the functions of the teacher and those of the examiner are naturally opposed to each other. And indeed no one who has given any attention to the question can doubt but that such an opposition really does exist in very many cases. Originally employed by teachers themselves to consolidate and test the results of their instruction, examinations were at first a natural, part of the educational system; but of late years they have rapidly developed into an independent species, which has separated off from the parent organism and now too often tyrannises over it. As of other developments, so of this, we are bound to believe that it is an adaptation to co-existing conditions, and therefore fulfils some useful purposes; but, from the teacher's point of view, as soon as examinations become detached from instruction, and come to be the end of learning instead of a means of teaching, the evils they produce are much more apparent than these benefits. When they have no worse result, they are apt to be viewed by students as affording them an authoritative standard, independent of the judgment of their professors, by which to decide what subjects of study and what parts of these subjects are of sufficient importance to be worthy of their attention. It is therefore not| to be wondered at that such examinations should be I looked upon by teachers with dislike, as being hindrances I and not helps to their work, or that we should hear frequent protests against their excessive multiplication.
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Breadth, Depth and Excellence: Sources and Problems in the History of University Science Education in England, 1850-1914
Studies in Science Education (1978)