As a college instructor, there’s one question I hear on a regular basis. And no, it’s not “Can we get out early today?” (ok, so maybe there are TWO questions I hear a lot.)
Every time I get ready to give a test, a student (sometimes two. Or three. Often a dozen or more) will ask “Is the test easy?”
Instead, I tell them a story. I think most of them roll their eyes or have no idea what I’m talking about. Or, more than likely, immediately tune me out. (They never tune me out when I tell them about how I like to eat cinnamon rolls when someone throws up. But who can figure what will capture the attention of today’s college student?)
The story I tell them is this. When my daughter was younger, we would often watch the game show Who Wants to be a Millionaire. At this point, I usually lower my voice and try to take on the Regis Philbin persona. But instead, I think I probably sound more like Monty Python’s Michael Palin doing his imitation of a cheesy announcer.
My daughter was pretty good at answering the questions. I don’t think I ever told her (so please keep this quiet), but I think she was much better at it than me. And that’s when she was like eight years old.
However, no matter which question she answered, whether it was the $100 question or the $500,000 question, if she knew the answer, she would always say, “Yeah, but that one was easy. Every one knows that.”
And I would always say, “If you know the answer, they’re all easy.”
And that’s what I tell my students – if you know the answer, they’re all easy.
If the students are still paying attention by this point, they’re either regretting their decision or on the verge of trying to escape through an open window.
Or, if they were unfortunate enough to have made it all the way through, they realize then that either A) the test isn’t easy, or B) they don’t know the answers.
But isn’t this true – not just for taking a test or trying to take home millions of dollars on a game show, but also in life.
If we can do something, we think it must be easy. Or everyone can do this. Instead, we should acknowledge our talents. Embrace them.
That’s what I tried to do for my daughter – let her know that no, not everyone can answer that question.
I don’t know if she ever listened to me. But it’s given me a story to tell that college students are learning to dread.