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Week 7November 22, 1999
Teaching on the High Seas
Tiffany Smythe, November 12, 1999
Being a teacher on a school ship is not always easy, especially when the wind and weather dont cooperate. We hold almost all classes on deck; we sit in an oval, seminar style, and I write (upside-down, usually) on a dry-erase board that I hold in front of me.
There are many things that can make it difficult to have class on deck, however. It can be difficult to hear each other over the noise of the wind or the motor, and students are often distracted by the crew working or by ships, dolphins and other things on the water. Sometimes we need to interrupt or even stop class to tack or strike sail. Class on deck becomes particularly difficult when its really windy or when were in a big seaway; waves spray over the deck and get everyone (and their notebooks) wet, and people feel seasick.
It might seem like we should have class belowdecks, especially when were in rough seas, but we really cant do that. We dont have enough room below for everyone to gather and be able to see my dry erase board and me. Besides, people feel even more seasick when were down there! Sometimes, when things get tough, it just makes more sense not to have class. We try to make up for this when we get to port and are more sheltered from wind and weather.