In Finnish high-schools, twice a year it’s time for the annual matriculation exam, which is meticulously supervised by us teachers. Students writing the exam are allowed to bring food with them, since the whole thing lasts for a full 6 hours and they’re not allowed to leave and have lunch in between. Instead they’ll eat by their desks as they’re writing.
When I was sitting there completing my supervising duties, I had the perfect opportunity to observe what kind of food these youngsters had brought for this important occasion, when they really needed to be on top of their performance and maximize their energy levels.
Unfortunately, if the test results correlate at all with the quality of “food”, I wouldn’t get my hopes up. The diet mainly consisted of huge bottles of soda, sweetened juices, white bread and candy. Not a vegetable in sight – not to mention anything else which could be called even semi-healthy.
A few of them had brought water – but didn’t seem to drink it. Instead they sipped continuously from their sugary sodas. And threw down a few gummy bears or M&M:s to go. One out of 20 odd people had brought a rye bread sandwich and one actually had an apple in front of her. Not that I saw her eat it. Instead she munched on a chocolate bar.
Now, not only as a teacher, but as a mother myself, I wondered what were the parents thinking? Hadn’t anybody had a look at what their kids brought with them for such an important day? Had anybody raised the issue of what to eat to perform at your best? Not to mention how to even stay awake for a full 6 hours. Because God knows, had I eaten even half the amount of sugar on those plates, I’d have fallen asleep faster than you could say Snickers.