As if drinking, driving, sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll aren't enough for teens to cope with - there are also exams. Let's not put pressure on them, but let's remind them at regular intervals that these exams will
- DETERMINE YOUR WHOLE FUTURE LIFE, EARNINGS AND SOCIAL STANDING.
- And ALL YOUR YEARS AT SCHOOL HAVE BEEN LEADING TO THIS.
- And, OF COURSE I'LL BE PROUD OF YOU DARLING EVEN IF YOU FAIL THE EXAMS AND GET A JOB IN MC'DONALD'S.
- Oh, and: "YOU KNOW JULIA AT MY BOOK GROUP? HER SON'S GOT INTO OXFORD..."
We say to our friends, "I just want them to have choices and opportunities..." But are we just a little fixated with revealing resounding results to Julia at Book Group come August 4th?
My eldest boy is motivated to study by his peers. "Sam has apparently done sixteen hours this week, I'm off to the library for eight hours, Mum..."
My middle son is motivated by Plato. "Education is a never-ending process of intellectual discussion and exams are a stupid preoccupation of the bourgeoisie."
While my youngest son is of the pragmatic, "If you set the bar too high early on you can only go down," school of thought.
I try to help them through in various motherly ways. Providing tubs for stuff relating to each subject, feeding them with Jamie Oliver steak sandwiches, roast chicken dinners, bananas, strawberries, blueberries and trays of home-made tiffin. Massaging their shoulders, taking them out for a walk or a drive, or to the movies. And I try to help with the subject matter too - eek, some of it is hard and DULL. Poor lambs.
They all like to revise in different ways. Sure, there are common strands in terms of revision style - pyjamas, bowl of cereal, Facebook open, 'call centre' headphones connecting them to fellow sufferers - and unopened packets of coloured pencils, lurid post-it notes and coloured paper, supplied (optimistically) by Mum. Well, I passed five Highers by rainbow coding my notes and making beautiful Butterfly Points. (Girl-style Bullet Points).
In terms of personal techniques, son 1 enjoys the process of teaching his exam subject to me, using a large white board easel and marker pen, usually adopting the sarcasm and mannerisms of one of his teachers. I then ask searching questions based on perusal of Past Papers and text books. He then patronises me, complete with Mr Hardy's horrid sneer - "I've explained Supply and Demand already!" - on my extreme stupidity.
Son 2 has his own unique little ways. These are top secret. I think they go on as I sleep, or as he sleeps. He tells me, convincingly, that exams should be about the subject, not techniques around the subject.
Boy 3 has the puppy-dog approach of, "These were my notes, Mum, but they got crumpled, chewed, splashed with Aftershave and a banana exploded on them."
Actually, I have never really worried about school stuff. I think Son 2 is right, learning is not a finite process relating to techniques. My wish is that they have learned to love learning.