"No," he said, when I said "ooh, you could look at this," when testing him. "I have to do what will get me marks and that won't." So, we turned away from investigating Dutch Elm disease back into the revision texts and the all-important margin with the mark scheme. I hope the A level exams have not turned my bright, maverick son, and all those other children with a thirst for just knowing stuff into mark machines. The tension they are put through at this time is anyway high: you cannot turn on the radio, television or open a paper without the words "A Level" and "miss out" leaping out at you. It does make me sad that there is such a huge pressure on them to succeed, coupled with what my daughter calls "sucking the fun out of everything." How tragic not to get in to your university of choice, and to have spent 2 years of unrelenting work turning away from what might interest you because it doesn't happen to attract any marks.
In the dim and distant past when I did my A levels, I got marks for trotting off down interesting alleys: it was called "reading around the subject" and "broadening your outlook." I got marks (at school at any rate) for being witty, and managed to pass my English language O level at A with a short story that was beyond weird. I think it involved bones.