Snow days – an outdoor winter?

 

A chara, – As a retired teacher, I must say that over my 35 years in the profession I don’t think I had even 20 snow days (“No more snow days: School would continue remotely under reform plans”, News, June 1st). If I had, it would have accounted for 0.2 per cent of the total number of days in the classroom. The unadulterated pleasure of the children on those days was a joy to behold. On subsequent days the experience provided endless opportunities for discussion, writing and art. I hope the Minister drops this silly, tokenistic move or she might find herself on the receiving end of a few well-directed snowballs this coming winter! – Is mise,

GERRY LAWLESS,

Ballinasloe,

Co Galway.

Sir, – Bryan MacMahon spent 44 years as a schoolmaster in his native Listowel. His short story The Windows of Wonder is a must-read for every generation of teacher.

In the story, the young substitute teacher faces a class where the students sit gravely in rows and consume her with their brown eyes. She explains to them that “your minds are like rooms that are dark and brown. But somewhere in the rooms if only you can pull aside the heavy curtains, you will find the windows, these are the windows of wonder”. The story goes on to tell of the teacher’s success at igniting a sense of wonder and enthusiasm in the minds of the students. The classroom is transformed from a place of gloomy silence into a vibrant space.

Now, more than ever, in our schools we must pull aside the heavy curtains and locate the windows of wonder for our students. We must open them together so that we all might see “the yellow sunlight, the silver stars or the many coloured wheel of the rainbow”. We should all play in the snow! – Yours, etc,

JOHN McHUGH,

Principal,

Ardscoil Rís,

Dublin 9.

Sir, – The Department of Education’s plan for “No more snow days” merely demonstrates how little the department officials understand of education.

First, exposure to unexpected, uncommon, or extreme climactic conditions may be educational in itself, and the opportunity ought not be squandered,

Second, and perhaps more importantly, online educational work requires significant planning, which implies at least the same time in preparation, if not three-fold, that is required for simply walking into a classroom and continuing the well-prepared plan which was paused yesterday.

That is without the background administrative communication at short notice to ensure the children and parents can access any online classroom at very short notice. – Yours, etc,

Prof PK PLUNKETT,

Clinical Professor

of Emergency Medicine,

Trinity College Dublin,

Dublin 2.