It was May half-term and I was really struggling with a worksheet about probability. My mum and I were having the standard holiday homework row; she was determined I’d finish it, I wanted to leave it to ask the teacher (i.e. not do any more under the classic guise of ‘I didn’t get it’).
My mum insisted I ring Alan. He was my auntie-who-isn’t-really-my-auntie’s boyfriend. He was good at maths. But it was 11am. Alan was at work. Being a big boss at work. A big boss at the end of an extension I’d have to go through the receptionist to reach.
Girls, my mum made me do this. She made me ring an international company, navigate its switchboard and then ask my fake uncle to stop, you know, managing hundreds of people and a computer system so that he could help me with my probability worksheet.
I am so glad that young people no longer have to face the same humiliation. Today you don’t have to ring a pretend family member or other random adults to get advice on your homework. Instead you turn to the great all-knowing resource that is the internet!
Even better, you can use social media platforms for help. Yes, really! Here are some tips on making the most of Instagram and co. for school work.
Ask your teacher
Some teachers are totally down with how great social media can be for education and use special hashtags or Google hangouts for discussions. I know a maths teacher who tweeted tips about homework he’d set (I could have done with him for my probability worksheet!).
Ask your teachers if they are doing anything that you can follow or join in with. If they don’t, your question might inspire them to start!
Search for and save useful information
You can use Pinterest for so much more than just craft projects and fashion inspo (although you should totally carry on doing that too).
Create boards for different subjects and save useful information to them – you can easily add any website or picture by clicking the ‘Create your own pin’ option. Put all your research and revision together in one place!
There’s also lots of brilliant educational info available for you to repin on Pinterest. Search for any subject or topic and you’ll find cool posters and visual explanations.
Don’t forget to actually read the stuff – pinning alone won’t mean you learn it!
Get another explanation
For ages I couldn’t get my head around gradients (I wasn’t totally rubbish at maths, honest). No matter how many times my teacher explained it, the concept just didn’t go in. I happened to mention this mental block to another maths teacher and within a couple of minutes of corridor chat, she had run through the whole topic and it was all clear!
This isn’t to say that my usual teacher wasn’t very good, just that sometimes we need a different explanation – YouTube is brilliant for this. Among the cute cats and product reviews, there are loads of videos discussing facts and ideas that we learn about in school. Check them out if you want to go over something.
I’m off to revise gradients through memes.
Find an expert
Obviously some of the people you encounter in lessons aren’t around anymore. Shakespeare doesn’t have his own verified Twitter account, Emmeline Pankhurst doesn’t create IG stories on suffragette demos (wouldn’t it be awesome if she could have?!).
But many important figures are current. You can’t follow Shakespeare but you probably can find the Shakespeare expert who wrote the introduction to the play you’re studying. Many experts have social media profiles. Follow some and see what they’re saying, if you don’t understand a particular point you’ve read in their work, maybe send them a tweet asking a question about it.
As well as individuals, most institutions are now on Twitter or Facebook. Look up who or what you’re interested in and you’ll get a broader view than it’s possible to get in class. Instagram is a great platform for art galleries and museums and you get to see their collections close up without having to wait for a school trip!
Follow a service
There are services dedicated to helping GCSE students (BBC Bitesize is the best for this). They aren’t just relevant during exam revision; throughout the year they offer support and engaging content. Follow them on Facebook to get all the good stuff in your feed.
Follow relevant hashtags on Twitter too, such as #GCSEmaths or #GCSEphysics. You’ll find useful material, including fun recreations of experiments, and questions to challenge your knowledge (just watch out for accounts designed to lure you to pay for their tutoring services).
Consider following the accounts of a magazine, celebrity or even an individual who posts in a foreign language that you’re learning. You get a fun insight into life abroad along with a test of your understanding.
‘Bon début de semaine tout le monde!’ my Québécoise friend recently put in an Instagram caption. If you’re learning French, can you translate this? The fact she posted this on a Monday helped me!
Ask a friend
Finally, if you get stuck with a particular piece of homework, remember that you can always put out a cry for help on Facebook or Snapchat! Maybe someone from your class could talk it through with you, or maybe an older friend or relative could offer advice – without the embarrassment of having to ring them at work #grateful.
It’s time you started celebrating your period, guys. Sign up to bettybox RN and get all your tampons and pads, beauty products, sweet treats and loads more cool stuff delivered to your door, every single month. We know. It’s totally awesome.