Old school learning
Well before the establishment of study tubers and YouTube, 14 UK parents and teachers established the Campaign for Real Education in 1987. Unaffiliated with any political party, the CRE manifesto focuses on freedom for teachers to teach as they choose without having to conform to a specific curriculum.
Competition trumps cooperation. Product comes before process. Overall, the group would prefer to resist the creation of the “politically correct, secular, socialist society” promoted by progressive educators.
It is within this context that CRE chairman Chris McGovern seeks to limit the freedom of students to define how they learn. Seems he prefers to leave the methodology to the experts.
Chuckin up the deuces, study tubers entered the Internet in 2015 and took matters into their own hands.
What are study tubers?
These channels consist of current and former students building learning community on YouTube through subscriptions and comments on their videos. Video discussion threads become a source of inspiration and encouragement.
Students share videos of themselves studying or explain best tips for getting As on exams in order to satisfy expectations. Sometimes they simply share their successes and failures when receiving acceptance letters from their favorite Ivy League school. The study with me videos turn into a source of accountability and celebration for keeping students focused on the task at hand.
I wanted to find out why students would make study with me videos in the first place. These unique videos consist of nothing but setting a camera on the student while they study.
So I reached out to study tuber Melissa Brady
Brady runs a no-holds-barred channel that emphasizes keeping it real at all times. Her videos are a perfect example of an anti-fake aesthetic that so many teenagers care about today. The consumer culture filled with offers and promotions takes a background role. Brady replaces it with content showing we are all caught in the machine.
This aesthetic shines through in her highly concentrated 1-second clips of daily living. Subscribers watch her taking out the retainer, brushing teeth, getting coffee, making shakes, and waiting in lines.
Gone is the notion of pretending beauty and perfection are a part of who we are. Instead, Brady and other study tubers call the product what it is. Makeup is unreal. Good grades are a grind. Brady separates herself from the end result and takes her users through the transformative process it takes to get there:
The reason why I chose to post videos of me studying is because I wanted to motivate my subscribers AS WELL as me. When I film myself studying I know that there are going to be a lot of other people studying along with my video and it makes me very excited to study and film. I especially wanted my studying series to be more of something “fun” to do instead of something that you have to do.
What educators think about study tubers
The study tuber movement doesn’t impress everyone. CRE chairperson Chris McGovern quipped in the the Telegraph earlier this year that “we need to get away from the videos, I suspect they are whipping up hysteria. Unfortunately for youngsters, they tend to whip each other up into a frenzy.” Reader Alex Ford commented that “Watching Youtube instead of studying is the new tidying your desk.”
But is study tubing really a waste of time?
Career educators like high school teacher Patty Wilcox of Larned, Kans., take a more nuanced view on the popularity of study tubers: “[student viewers] need to realize they are not that person and need to adapt the information to their own personality style and ability. . . . I believe in utilizing tools that tap into my students’ world. Many of them are watching videos anyway, why not use that medium to our advantage?”
Students that would dare to take ownership of their own learning deserve empowerment, not criticism. Studying for good grades to get in the ideal school is stressful enough already. If I’m going to pursue that, the best practice is to surround myself with friends helping me along the way.
If others couldn’t get that, it might be time to give them the deuces and find your own study solutions.