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Proponents of outdoor learning, in which organized education takes outside the schoolhouse, say there are a number of benefits to the approach. Aside from fostering better communication skills and self-esteem, advocates hold that open-air class sessions lead to lower stress levels and greater respect for the natural environment.

None of those seemed to be the goal of a recent test session in China, though, where over 1,000 students took their tests outside a single school.

The following series of photos was reportedly taken on November 13 at a school in Shanxi Province’s Baoji City. Roughly 1,200 students sat for the test, working at spacious desks set up on the athletic field adjacent to the main building.

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The reason for the unorthodox exam site seems to have been to prevent cheating. Patrolling the area was a pack of 80 on-foot proctors, and the students were also monitored by telescope and camera.

▼ Far more space than teachers can be expected to keep watch over with the naked eye

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Besides being able to space them a little farther apart than usual, it’s not immediately apparent how holding the test outside made it much more difficult for students to cheat, though, especially given the amount of manpower still employed in keeping everyone honest. 1,200 students and 80 proctors works out to a 15 to 1 ratio. In many countries, teachers often have classes of 30 or so students and administer tests all by themselves. Doubling up the amount of supervising adults seems like it should be enough to prevent underhanded tricks without marching everyone outside into what was, judging from many students’ attire, pretty chilly weather.

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We suppose you could make the argument that this prevented test takers from hiding cheat sheets in their desks or other secret stashes in the classroom ahead of time. Of course, the noisier outdoor environment also seems like it’d make it easier to whisper, “Hey, what’s the answer for #15?” without being overheard by a teacher.

▼ Also, rather than being invigorated by the fresh air, the fourth guy in this row seems like he’s ready to take a nap thanks to all that relaxing sunshine.

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Even more so than the rationale for the test, though, we’re intrigued by the logistics behind it. How long did all this take to set up? What would they have done if it had suddenly rained? Does the school have that many first floor classrooms, or did half or more of those desks have to be carried down the stairwells?

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And finally, after they handed in their papers, did the students get extra credit if they stuck around to help put everything back?

Sources: Tianya, Toychan
Images: Tianya