It’s exam time in our house. We’ve got two almost-13-year-olds learning, for the first time in their lives, how to manage their time and process all this material for the big final exam. They are learning how to cope with the associated stress, organize their stuff, and get themselves in the right frame of mind.
They’re handling it reasonably well, but it’s been challenging.
Watching them contend with all of the review notes, group study sessions and stomach butterflies have brought back a lot of memories for me as well (one of the perks of middle age is never again having to sit a final exam in a crowded, stuffy gymnasium). I’ve noticed that some things are different. Really different.
For one thing, having their own iPads and wifi means that studying has gone social in entirely new ways. When one of my daughters offered on Facebook to share her detailed review notes in science and history, there were over 100 comments. I watched, amused, at their postings and status updates asking questions, expressing nervousness, offering support. There was a lot of the digital equivalent of giggling, but also a lot of real support and reassurance slipped in around the procrastination and adolescent posturing.
Although I was a little concerned about the impact of having your Facebook page open in one window while you are supposed to be studying in another (I know from personal experience how distracting that can be!), I see the importance for them in connecting to each other when you are stuck at your desk on a gorgeous, sunny June weekend.
One of my daughter’s friends found some music videos about the scientific method, scientific method and the water cycle. I haven’t personally vetted these for content, but on the whole these extras strike me as fun ways to help with recall and learning. There are so many wonderful resources available to them on the Internet, and it so seamless, so obvious to them, that the answer to almost any question can be found through an intelligently phrased Google search.
They can’t even see it for the marvel it is. Or the extreme time suck. Depending on how well you manage it.
As parents and educators, it’s clear there are many, many things we have to worry about online. But it’s also important to stop and see the other stuff too. And the smiling emoticons and “you’ll do greats!” that I saw on their Facebook pages made me smile.