Showing posts from September, 2012

All Night Essay Crisis Syndrome

Is there a genuine excuse for your essay crisis ?     If you leave all your essay work until the last moment, will the result be a disaster? Are you risking the tragic demise of your academic career? Is there a survival strategy?     First, let's confess that some students work well under pressure. Last minute writers argue that you are less likely to be distracted if you have six hours left to finish, than if you have six days of leisure, sleep and study combined. Also, with less time you are less likely to be bogged down in wider reading, excessive contextualisation, and profound but confusing speculations. Crisis-driven writers maintain a sharp focus that helps them to maintain a clear sense of priorities and relevance in their work.      While many great works have been the labour of many years of apprenticeship, and multiple arduous revision and drafts, there are admittedly examples of poets and writers who have achieved prodigious success by working in short bursts, u

Turning Exams Upside Down and Inside Out

Is this a question? - Is this an answer? It's quite stressful for children to sit exams at the age of 10 or 11. It is perhaps fortunate that many young people are not fully aware of what is happening to them, and have a poor understanding of its rationale or relevance. Typically, children are trained how to revise, and they are taught exam technique, but no one really explains why they are being asked questions based on their comprehension of a text, or their verbal reasoning. Obedient children simply get on with the task, and some of them succeed from will-power alone. Creative children tend to become bored and rebellious, no matter how much you tell them that this is vital for their future career prospects. In order to begin to fix this problem of justifiable resistance, we need to step back from the compulsory testing regimes and the machinery of educational selection. New strategies are required. I'm sure testing is here to stay, but I do think that children shou

Towards Healthy Memory

For the Ancient Greeks, memory was a highly prized skill, and a crucial faculty of the mind. Orators, poets, performers, lawyers and philosophers developed astonishing powers of memory. Their capacity for recall was prodigious. Because their culture valued orality, and the authenticity of speech as direct communication, memeory was a key skill. In a sense, the devaluation of the role of memory could be deemed to be progressive. As writing progressed the key role of memory became less significant. You did not have to remember everything if the answer was in a book, or indeed if it had been recorded acccurately somewhere, in some form. Nonetheless, memory work has often been perceived as a necessary regime and a desirable discipline for character formation and spiritual rectitude. Medieval monks and renaissance scholars devised memory systems to help them to meditate on the circles of Hell, or to focus on aspects of theology; or simply to remember the sacred texts. Learning to recit