Lets be realistic about the situation. You've spent the last five years having the time of your life at secondary school. Well, maybe not the time of your life if you didn't enjoy it. Er... You've done time. Yep, that should be a good catch all term to describe it...
So you've done five years and you're coming up for release, or "graduation" as it's more popularly known, and all you've got to do to set yourself up for life on the outside is pass your exams. Shouldn't be too hard, right? You've had eleven years of practise leading up to this point anyway, so it'll be a doddle! The only thing standing in your way is that over used and rarely understood word:
You see, the problem with revision is as teachers we stand there in front of you saying all manner of wonderful catch phrases:
"If you do more preparation and revision, then you'll improve!"
"You really need to revise more for your tests."
"You need to do at least an hour a day or you won't get through it all."
"You have two choices, revise yourself to death or fail and die."
Maybe the last one was made up.
But you get the point! My problem with this is that we bash you round the head with the word constantly for five years and very rarely does anyone actually improve to the point we'd like. Why is this? Simple, so rarely do we actually explain what revision is. Worse, teachers are terrible for passing on their stress to you as students. This is very naughty and ends up with situations reminiscent of The Simpsons where Homer is strangling Bart:
"Why aren't you passing your exams at the highest level so I look good??!!"
"I don't know!!"
"Why aren't you a machine?!!!!!!"
You get the point.
I genuinely try not to do this with students. If I grind you into the ground with stress you're likely to do badly anyway. If I say lovely things all year when you are, in fact, utterly terrible then you'll fail thinking you were amazing. Its a balancing act of just enough encouragement mixed with a bit of reality. I'm better at the reality part...
Before we go any further, I need to make a confession to you. A confession in the hope you'll realise that I am human and was indeed once your age.
When I was at school I came across as being very, very lazy. I called it "being efficient."
But I wasn't stupid. Well, not all the time anyway.
It felt as if I ran on batteries from Poundland and in order to not run out of power, I'd apply myself when necessary and only at those times. In other words - if it needed doing, I'd do it properly. If it didn't then... it got a lot less attention.
The thing to realise here is:
In my ten years of teaching I've come across lots of students who were just like I was. However, I also come across students every single year that just baffle me. These are the students who:
This is the single most stupid and dangerous thing anyone could ever do.
If you aim to simply do "just enough," to just scrape through on the last mark of the last question in the paper than you are playing an extraordinarily dangerous game that you are more than likely going to lose in the most spectacular way.
I don't understand it. You've worked for 11 years of your life to get to this point. That's over 2/3 of your entire living life. That's a long time, right? And at the first point in your life where it really, really matters you're going to go "can't be bothered."
Wow. Goodnight, ladies and gentlemen! Thanks for coming! Hope you enjoyed the show.
That's it? 15 years to get to a point where we just shrug our shoulders and consign all our potential in the bin and then most likely live a life of bitter resentment for the education system that "failed" you.
Some facts to understand:
It's not too late.
At this point in the year it's not too late to change your outlook, to change your mind about how you view "studying" and that maybe it's not just saddo's and weird kids that want to succeed. Whether you like it or not, we are all human and we all have a love of rewards, a love of success, a love of doing well. You can't tell me you don't - you might not feel it in school but you felt it when you thrashed your mate 6-0 on Fifa. It's the same thing. You won - you felt good.
I'm not going to tell you how long I spent revising for my exams. But I will tell you that in my final year of University, myself and a group of 6 friends managed to, for an entire week solid:
We all passed those exams. Not just by the skin of our teeth, we passed them well.
One of those people in that group also did his dissertation in 1.5 days. He'd given up, had enough, was going to quit university - right at the death. The exact same as a student giving up when it's GCSE time.
I managed to convince him to at least do something. He stayed up all day, all night and handed in what turned out to be quite a good project in AI.
He's now the head teacher of a behavioural school.
Why am I telling you this? Because if you're a student who:
Then you should realise you still have a chance to change your mind and realise that you could make a decision which completely changes your life. Oh and makes you filthy rich in the future.
So what do you do? Simple, it's time to talk revision...
What is revision?
I'm going to upset your parents.
You cannot revise for hours on end, day after day. You shouldn't be drawing up absurd timetables, colouring in each day a different colour for each subject and then feeling awful when you, strangely, don't behave like a machine and stick to it.
Let's understand you're human. Worse, you're a teenage human which means you're a total nutter with no sense of self preservation and an insatiable need to have a good time.
So we won't be shutting you in your room for days on end thinking somehow the knowledge will fall into your mind from the books you never open.
Revision is also not reading. If you've spent the last 5 years wondering why you get terrible results even though you read your book for 6 hours before the test... it's because you read your book for 6 hours before the test.
Here, based on real science (genuinely) is Mr Davidson's Lazy Persons Extremely Effective Revision Technique. (C) (Tm) (BSc Hons.)
While you are still in school:
We form memories through repetition, routine and familiarity. If you don't revisit your learning then those memories are much harder to form, or simply disappear altogether. This reading exercise basically keeps them "familiar" to you and makes your life much, much easier.
When it's revision time:
That's it. I'm sorry to say there is no magic here, but if you are prepared to put the time in... then magic will indeed happen.
So rant over. Please open your minds, think about your futures and have faith in yourself. If you can't believe in your ability, then remember I still do and you need to come and talk to me about it!
Oh and... don't leave it until later, start now.
Well that was a surprise, wasn't it?!
The Ofqual consultation came out today, and to our sheer, wide eyed, awestruck surprise we discovered that... they did exactly what they fancied doing! Click here to read the riveting document explaining their decision for yourself.
Ofqual have decided, like most decent schools had felt for years, that they've had enough of the cheating and that the coursework for both 2018 and 2019 GCSE entries will not count. However, you've still got to do it...
Why? Because it's part of the specification, which means if you don't cover it then technically we can't say you've completed the GCSE. There is also the small point that you desperately need programming skills in order to pass your unit 2 exam.
In many ways, this is the right decision. Now your grade will not be affected by other schools deciding to break the rules and do what they like. It also means that your grade is now entirely in your hands, based on the performance you put in during the summer exams.
It's the implications for the future that are more interesting/worrying:
OCR have the right idea here, by the look of it, in that we still do a programming task in the lessons we have with you but you then have to answer questions on the work you have done in the exam. This is fair enough - most candidates that cheat don't actually have a clue what their code does so wouldn't be able to explain this in the examination anyway.
In the meantime, what does it mean for you and what should you do going forwards?
If you want to know more, have a read of the the links below. Otherwise, carry on doing as you're asked and be thankful you can now begin your exam preparation just that little bit sooner.
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