In Defence of Media Studies

Heads up: this is not an April Fool. Thought I’d better add a disclaimer in case of people thinking I’d spend 500 words taking the piss…

I only got two A*s at GCSE, and I say ‘only’ because I went to a grammar school, and as far as senior management were concerned I was too low on the food chain to bother with after my year nine end of year exams. I’m quite proud of them, though, because I worked hard for them… mostly. One was for English Literature and generally required candidates to read stuff, which was, you know, really tough. The other was for Media Studies.

Don’t look at me like that, subject snobs. I also took three whole humanities and I wanted to take something colourful for balance. It turned out to be one of the smartest things I ever did, because now I use what I learnt in my job. How many of you use your entire Maths GCSE every day? Thought not. (Incidentally I have a tax return to file soon and I regularly calculate how much money I haven’t earned, so I do use snippets of Maths Unit Whatever. But now’s not the time for Francesca’s Thoughts on What Children Should Learn About Money.)

I’m writing this now because last week it was announced that the eduction official people have cut a load of subjects from the curriculum, but left in the ‘often-maligned’ Media Studies. I never thought I’d say this, but good for you, Ofqual.

If I hadn’t taken Media, I would have no idea how to use Photoshop. I wouldn’t know what a press release or Google Docs or a sans serif font is, I wouldn’t have such an interest in the media, this blog wouldn’t have continued in the vein it has and I wouldn’t have my internships/commissions/shop. I might actually have gone to university to study a humanity – or, God forbid, English Lit – instead of setting up as a freelancer. When I was in school I got to take a break from essays and learn how to make things – and I still did pretty well in my other subjects (A*-C all the way, thank you very much). Of the four grammar schools in my area, mine was the only to offer Media, and a lot of teachers, students and parents looked down on it.

Joke’s on them, though, innit, because if our school system’s going to make everyone in it a miserable grade-obsessive, it might as well show kids that at the end of the misery their skills are still relevant. And if that’s not academic enough… I don’t care. I really enjoy my job and I didn’t even build a massive debt to get it. Plus, writing this counts as part of my working day.

Going Back to Hell 101

No one ever did confess to being under the age of 11 so I’m going to assume you guys are in the same-ish age bracket as me and are school-age. By ‘school age’ I mean ‘in compulsory education’. I’m technically university age but am also technically on a gap year and I don’t have a clue how you degree-types work so I’m going to assume you guys have your shit together because this post is a guide to…

Going Back to Hell*

*In this instance “hell” can be taken to mean “school”.

Let’s level with each other first of all. I kind of hated school. I liked to learn – mostly – but I loathed deadlines and homework and pressure (seven years in a grammar school and a talent for being too conscientious made for one mini heart palpitation per day and cold sweats every fortnight. Oh, I’m kind of tense? Really? Ihadn’tnoticedI’monadeadlinefuckoffI’mfine). My favourite parts of lessons were when you could have conversations with friends and the teacher and learn without realising you were learning. Too bad it took until year 13 for that teaching method to really be okay with senior management…

So I was always reluctant to go back to school after the holidays. Every holiday, up to and including Easter 2014, I dreaded not just the first day back but all the days until my next piece of freedom. Once I was there I was fine. But I always resented my school for not being more like Hogwarts or Camp Half-Blood. (Why can’t we have 12 Christmas trees and a lava wall? What is wrong with singing furniture and classes lead by students with the best monster-killing record?)

In retrospect, not fully embracing my fate as a pupil at an all-girls English grammar school probably set me back. No lesbian jokes please.

Because when I think about it, if I had fully considered the workload, if I had understood that sometimes you have to play the game in order to finish it – woa I’ve been watching too much sport – I would have made the correct preparations. In, say, August.

Since I care very much that you all don’t spend nine months of your life wanting to stab your eyes out with you HB pencil, I have put together a short list about how anyone – yep, even you with your weird as shit academic situation – can make school slightly less shit. You’re welcome.

Step 1: Prepare

Did Mo Farrah just turn up to the Olympic Stadium and go for a jog to win those medals in 2012? No. I presume he planned that gig, preparing himself for the utter tedium of a 5 billion lap run. He was not taken by surprise by the circus he was in.

From madmanmadeofstraw.tumblr.com
From madmanmadeofstraw.tumblr.com

So let’s confront the facts: you have to go to school. No matter how late you stay up playing Sims pretending tomorrow is Saturday, you’re going to have to get yourself out of bed and learn some information at an absurdly early hour. Take a moment to fully appreciate this, since acceptance that you have a problem is the first step to solving it. (I hear the same concept applies to quitting drugs.)

Now you’ve faced the butt-ugly truth, it’s time to review your physical belongings. Your uniform if you have one. Your bag. Your pencil case. It has been pointed out to me that I buy more time buying stationery than I do clothes, which is totally justifiable because you can’t see every piece of clothing you wear but you do have to get your pencil case out five times a day, five days a week. So it’s got to look damn cute and actually hold pencils for more than a term. Now get yourself down to Staples and if your parents don’t want to pay for functional equipment, point out that if fineliners are the tools of Oscar winners, you need them to not fail A Levels.

Step 2: Organise

… and stay organised for as long as possible. That goes for setting deadlines, completing projects, revising for exams, planning your actual life around school, etc. You will definitely fuck up somewhere along the line – I once forgot to go on a school trip; Ellen forgot to go to an AS module. But you can keep your shit together for more than the first week of September by doing one teeny tiny thing: using the brain cells you just exercised in class to remember all the stuff you have to get done. Or if that’s not your gig, then by utilising your school planner and covering your calendar in so many notes it looks like a courtroom puked. Use colour coding if it helps/you want your calendar to look like pride week puked. Keep your timetable safe. Keep your passwords noted. If you’re planning to skip school to see your favourite band play in Camden, do that day’s work in advance. That way you’ll get to see JBiebs or Green Day or whoever floats your boat and your teachers won’t think you’re a delinquent arsehole for missing a topic for the immortal sight of Jimmy Urine sticking a phone down his pants.

For the record I never skipped class for a band. MSI was playing Camden on a godly scheduled teacher training day. No one had to negotiate homework to see Jimmy do something freaky.**

Ah, regrets.

Step 3: Retain Your Sense of Humour

 Sometimes your attitude toward the dickheads with whom you spend 35 hours a week is this:

From let-it-be-infinite.tumblr.com
From let-it-be-infinite.tumblr.com

Sometimes you and your non-dickhead friends will experience this attitude:

Intense Contemplation black-white-and-perfect.tumblr
From black-white-and-perfect.tumblr.com

But mostly you’ll be like this:

Psychos from clairedelunes.tumblr.com
From clairedelunes.tumblr.com

The Perks of Being a Wallflower is compulsory reading for anyone who’s school age, by the way. But seriously, the ability to laugh will get you through those lessons where the clock has definitely slowed down or the lunchtimes when your friends are gloating that they got higher marks in some test no one will remember in two years’ time. You might be laughing at yourself or the situation you’re in or maybe at somebody else (don’t be a dickhead to others to make yourself feel better though, it’s very year six).

Sometimes things will be very grey and if you’re having more than just a few low days, do everyone a favour and talk to someone – turns out teachers are people too, how about that – because if you’re going to get through school it should be in one relatively happy piece.

So there we have it.

Three golden nuggets of advice to make your life superduper perfect less shit. Hopefully.

**For the record, I can’t remember if Jimmy did actually put a phone in his pants. I do know, however, that he fake-called the Queen.

…A Continuation

This week has been pretty weird, but the knowledge that the Conservative Party is weirder (more weird? I’m never sure) has made me feel slightly better. I mean, they’re tying themselves in knots because I can not only marry whoever I deem appropriate, but I can do so in the knowledge that I’ll be able to support my husband/wife because my qualifications might actually mean something.

Oh, who am I kidding, no one has a flipping clue how eighteen multiple choice tests and a sixteen-mark question will help us live harmonious, straight-marriage-undermining lives.

Matt, 'The Telegraph'
Matt, ‘The Telegraph’

By the way, has anyone who is straight-married had their union directly threatened or undermined since Tuesday evening? (I’m quite curious because I think it would be funny/sad if someone came out to their husband or wife and announced that they’re leaving them because they can truly start a family with the new person).

I’ve Got Some Good News, Some Bad News and Some My Chem Stuff.

Snowflakes,

The bad news is that for the next three-and-a-half months, I will be inundated with GCSE revision/exams and tendonitis. After my last exam, which is on the 27th June, I will simply be inundated with tendonitis. This means that there are going to be lots of short, snappy posts  in the near future, because, although I got a wrist-brace from physio (tentatively named Bernie), all my energy will be focussed on getting good enough grades to get into the sixth form I want.

The good news is that throughout May and June, there will be posts written by Isobel, as we will be publishing the diary she’ll keep while in Morocco on World Challenge in April. I will also be continuing with the MCRmy Census and The Webways (census is open until 30th April, tell your friends), but at an (even) slower pace than before. I love reading all your entries almost as much as I love bitching about logging them… More even, sometimes. The also-good-news is that I’m planning blogs and sorting dates to publish them, so Indifferent Ignorance can maintain some facsimile of normality while I battle test papers and hoard ibuprofen.

Sounds like a song title. Speaking of which. The next record will be about Christmas trees. Oh, and don’t forget to vote for our resident favourite band in MTV’s March Madness thingy. But don’t vote so much you end up with wrists like yours truly. Bernie is lovely, but makes me feel like an old lady.

“For You Ze War Ist Ovahh.” Wait, Wrong Moustached Dictator.

Francesca’s List of Ways to Revise the Cold War

  • Go and see the new X-Men film, which I’m told is about the Cuban Missile Crisis.
  • Read Watchmen. Alternate reality, psh. It involves American paranoia.
  • Watch Rocky IV. I think that’s the one with the blatant propaganda… And, sadly, Sylvester Stallone has more obvious surgery in this one. I miss his old face.
  • Hit the BBC Bitesize website’s Cold War videos. Ah, they are funny. Really.

What of the above list have I actually done? Technically, none of them. I’m up to the Berlin Wall on Bitesize, I forgot to get Watchmen out the library and I only thought of Rocky today.

  You’re welcome.

Ellen, people are giving me grief about those photos (this is the only way to reach you because I’m not on Facebook). Apparently Straightened Hair and Made Over Frank is, well, cooler than Everyday Dragged Through a Hedge Frank.

And Thus the 20th April Shalt Never Be Forgot… Until Tomorrow.

  I thought I’d blog because I’m in a really good place right now mentally and I want to share the peace with you (though physically I’m a mess. I jammed my neck and needed a shoulder massage before I could put my backpack on properly again. Yes, I am a pansy).

  Firstly, Matt the Bog Roll Man has a friend, which seems to make him happy. I named him Monster:

  I checked my email earlier and nearly passed out from the amount of reviews, favourites and alerts my current Maximum Ride fan fiction, Ella’s Blog: Summer Vacation with the Flock, has. I checked and there are ninety reviews. For fourteen chapters. That’s probably only about six per chapter, but considering I am bad at updating and put in shameless MCR references, I am very proud. And glad the next chapter’s the last…

  Oh yeah, I got my Chemistry and Biology GCSE module results back this lunchtime. A* for both, which shocked me… Remember this? Yeah. I was a mess. Then I took an exam that mentioned butane and kerosene and had a silent mental breakdown at my desk. I realise this is sad and resolve to only look on the bright side of exams next time. For instance, I got chocolates when I got home. I consider this to be So Cool I had to capitalise those words.

  I’ll never do it again.

  I also went to the dentist and my teeth rock (which I already knew ’cause since I got my retainer off I smile much more) but they need sealing up, or something. Still, better that than an artery…

  Listening to Headfirst For Halos, knowing you’re going to deepest darkest Europe (Belgium) on Friday with some of your best friends, is really good for my neck. Even though I get the feeling I will get injured in a trench by Elizabeth.

Hail Frank’s Impending Brain Apocalypse.

  I have had been reading Chantal Claret’s blogs on www.morningwoodrocks.com and she is awesome. Crazy, talented and honest. Plus she has tre cool hair. Anyway, she has inspired me to write a blog on here and I thought I’d fill you in with stuff that’s gone on during this topsy-turvy day.

  My Dad went away earlier, I have no idea why or where, probably business, for a couple of days, but I don’t think I’ll miss him because we exchange an average of two words a week.

  My mother is at my parents’ evening at school, which I refused to attend on the basis my teachers won’t say what they think of me if I am sitting right there, sneaky buggers.

  I am fracking exhausted. This is because of my self-inflicted  idiocy. I have my VERY FIRST I’MA-CRAP-MY-SKINNIES SCIENCE GCSES on Friday week (the 5th, if you care). I am trying to revise lots as I am ‘conscinecious’. Translation: I am a sucker for karma. So I’ve been making notes on the old Edexel CD-textbook thing and haven’t had much time to write, which automatically means my brain has a period. Bits of my skull collapse in on themselves, I am not making this up. I have also discovered Percy Jackson. I saw the movie last week. My brother loves the books, has for years, and I read a bit of Lightning Thief before he found me with it and yelled at me, so I kinda-sorta-pretended I knew plot of the film. By the way, the Percy actor is not twelve. He has his shirt off in the first scene. Anyway, I borrowed the first book from Maxim (gave him Fang) and got addicted. The second book is on my desk right now. I want to read it but I know if I sit in bed with it I will consider sleep a tool for mere mortals and not bother with it. This is bad.

  I am now an irritable, hungry (get hungry when I’m stressed) ‘munchkin’.

  Cannot belive it is only Wednesday, I have a karate grading on the twentieth, Duke of Edinburgh stuff to do (SPONSOR ME FOR THE RACE FOR LIFE. CLICK THE WIDGET. DONATE. I WILL WRITE YOU A HAIKU) and I’m getting depressed. I get depressed when I’m stressed to, which is why I am treating you to a crappy emo-rant.

  Was going to write my version of the ten commandments, but… Actually, what the hell. Here goes:

How to Live Your Life According to Me

  • If there’s no faith, there’s no point.
  • There is always faith, no matter what it is in (and whether or not it is good or bad). So, even if you’re a genocidal madman who is being manhunted by the CIA and you think you want to hang yourself, there is always hope, even if it is in your beard or your nuclear weapons of mass destruction. You’ve shaved or had your nukes stolen? See number one, you may as well find a skipping rope and some rafters.
  • Karma is very real. So:
  • Bad things happen to bad people. However,
  • The only person who can make you feel guilty is yourself. If you do something that you know in your heart is wrong (at least according to your morals) you will suffer in life and death. Basically, you set your own standards. Same goes with being ‘good’.
  • People go where they want to when they die, and death will come in whatever form you want it to. Grim Reaper, Pearly Gates, The Black Parade, etc.

  That is my list of Honest Truths (written in RS, of course) and I am glad I posted them because I am sure they will be different when I am twenty or eighty or married or in prison or whatever and I need a record. Will forget to transcript into my diary…

  By the way, I heard a rumour that people read this. It makes me feel loved the way a prostitute wants to feel loved, so please comment, even if it’s to tell me that you won’t donate to my Race for Life/Duke of Ed. cause because I am a rude muthafrackin’ little toss pot who needs a slap in the goddamn face.

  Told you I was tired. When I regain full conscienceless I will regret ever logging on here.

Please Tell Me It’s the Firebell

  Monday marks the start of the second half of my legal time at high school. Sadly, I know I am doing sixth form so the glitz has worn off slightly, but I feel that the time has come to review my school life *gulp*

  So, what have I done so far in years Seven, Eight and half of Nine?

  1) Uhh… Homework. Yeah, I do my homework. That gets me points, I think.

  2) I have friends. Seriously, I am not making this up. One of them bummed round my house today. They call me Frank. It is very nice.

  3) I can’t think of another one.

  What would I like to do in the next two-and-a-half-years?

  Let’s see, make some cash. Cash is good, cash buys me ink and paper, CDs and orange nail varnish.

  MUSIC. Tune my violin, play my violin, learn to change my guitar strings without shredding my fingers. It’s a skill for life, you know.

  Pass my GCSEs. On a whim.

  See MCR in concert. But you already knew that.

  Now, kids, go and give some money to Haiti and some more money to Sport Relief (a guy dressed up as Cheryl Cole and I am not afraid to say he was pretty hot). Then give any money you have left to www.etsy.com and give money to whoever sells your favourite skirt. Even if you are a guy, you will want to purchase a tartan skirt.

  That is a fact.

  I think I will also laugh some more at Jimmy Urine’s hair and JLS’ baggy jeans. They are the shaved head to Pete Wentz’s emo fringe. Of course, Pete shaved his head onstage – to be honest I can’t see Marvin and Ortisé getting on a pair of skinnies during One Shot.