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Talk-ED: Rain, Rain, go away, come again another day



I wonder if there is any scientific evidence that it always rains on the first day of a school term, specially the one that starts in May? This morning pretty well the entire country will enjoy rain, torrential rain in places, gales and storms. Through all that the whole business of schooling will get under way. Wet rain gear hanging on hooks and dripping on the floor, shut inside at play-time, lunch eaten at desks, windows steamed up, puddles on the paths, leaves everywhere.

But still learning will take place.

The primary school I went to had really steep roofs so that the snow would not settle.  This was not because there was any snow in Hamilton, NZ, but because the buildings were a copy of the English style schools where it did snow!  Perhaps the design of school buildings in New Zealand should be looking ahead take account of a climate that could well be wetter than it currently is for many decades.

It is possible to design buildings that have large areas for being “outside” but under cover.  The building I have in mind is a very effective one.

Another interesting fact looking back is that the bike sheds had roofs so that the hundreds of  students that biked to school, even on a rainy day, would at least start off with a dry seat. But by comparison, in many communities, the first hint of a shower brings out a flotilla of SUVs to take their precious cargo, damaged if wet, to school.  Come to think of it, this happens on dry days too.

Back in the good old days we walked in the rain, that’s why we had rain coats and rain hats and bare feet.  Puddles, we knew with certainty, were made to walk through.  In the winter, such days produced a rush for the heaters, old cast iron radiators that had at two heats, barely discernible and likely to inflict third degree burns.  But clothing dried quickly and the day got under way.

Later, when I was a little more grown up and had a little more responsibility in a school, I used to feel very sorry for the cleaners on such days.  Tackling a large school at the end of a rainy day is quite a task and if rain is forecast for the next day, something of a Sisyphean act of hopelessness.  Even the paths are muddy and somehow or another most of it gets inside the buildings.

But I imagine that teachers look on the bright side and seize the teaching moment describing the wonderful way in which the drought has been broken and the impact of this on the rural community.  The increased level of water storage in the lakes feeding the hydro-electric dams is another blessing as we face winter.  Then there’s… actually I can’t think of another good point other than in desperation to point out many countries have a great shortage of water and we are blessed to have so much!

Subject teachers could capitalise on the rain.  English classes would study the Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner, music classes will listen to Handel’s Water Music, Art History classes will do any painting they can find with water, science classes will chant evaporation, condensation and precipitation and go spinning around the room on their water cycles!

Oh dear, rainy days do this to you.  But who can complain after such a long and wonderful summer and autumn.


The Bridging the Divides Conference

For more information, please contact the Manukau Insitute of Technology Centre for Studies in Multiple Pathways, Colleen Young:

E:  [email protected]  or P:  09 968 7631.


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