At this time of year, as courses are completed and exams loom closer, the focus for many secondary teachers shifts to revision. This often amounts to a couple of lessons on past papers and *shudder* mind maps before students are despatched to study-leave knowing that they’ll get good grades if they would only “read their notes.” Now, I left school when there weren’t quite as many distractions as there are today and, even then, the prospect of spending an evening in my room with only a tattered school jotter and a textbook for company was hardly enticing. For today’s teenage Twitter-ers, BBM-ers, Facebook-ers, checking-mobile-every-2-minute-ers it’s no doubt comparable to staring at a wall for an hour. Yet yet yet. Why not though? It’s what we were doing in 1994, and we did alright. Problem is….. this isn’t 1994.
As well as that approach to studying being archaic, it’s also directionless. Students may be applauded when they make study plans, but they usually consist of English 2-3pm; Chemistry 3-4pm, etc. I believe that teachers should be providing much more guidance for home study. Of course, the jotter and past papers shouldn’t be thrown out of the window, but there are a ton of resources available and they should be utilised. The teacher has to be the filter though, directing students to e.g. websites, videos and providing activities that can form an interesting programme of study for a 21st century child. Jotters and textbooks may have got us this far, but the way that people access information has changed since most of us were at school: it’s fast, it’s flicking between screens, it’s scanning, it’s 3 minutes of this, then 2 minutes of that. There’s much to be said for having the discipline to sit down and read something for an hour, but many adults struggle to do this now without checking their mobile or favourite internet pages every few minutes. Expecting children to do so is unrealistic. It’s 2012. Sod “read your notes.” Give them something that will actually make them want to study.