School lessons aboard the Thor Heyerdahl – written by Klara

schueler-klaraWelcome aboard the Thor Heyerdahl!
This room is called messroom, it’s our living and dining room. But since Tenerife the starboard side is our classroom. As you can see there are 17 students sitting in front of a blackboard and a teacher. At the moment it’s Doro the Spanish teacher: ‚So everybody see you on Monday.‘
Oh, what’s happening – everyone is leaving. I see they go outside. So the lesson continues on deck now. The whole class is focused while Sebastian explains the rules of physics. And while Group A is listening, Group B (the other 17 students on board) are sailing the ship, cleaning, cooking or relaxing until ‚ring, ring, it’s coffee time‘. So we take the time to ask some questions:

‚Hey you, would you like to give an interview?‘

Ally (student): ‚Yes of course!‘

Me: ‚Ok so let’s start. At first I’d like to know the things that differ most between lessons here and at home.‘

Ally: ‚Okay, one big difference is the surrounding. See, we have a beautiful ocean view, there are waves crashing over the deck and washing our feet. We have the sunshine on our faces and my favorite thing, fresh air ALL the time. On board it’s really important to look after your stuff. We’ve already had some accidents here. Do you remember my pencil case falling on the floor or all our wet work sheets? And one time a paper even fell overboard.‘

Me: ‚How about the content? Do you understand the lessons easily?‘

Ally: ‚I’m not really sure yet, because this is only my second day at school but we have a lot of practical connections. If our topic is waves (which it is in class 10) you can look outside and see the real-life waves and you can work with that. At home there are only pictures or sometimes a video film.‘

Me: ‚Are there some negative aspects about school here?‘

Ally: ‚Oh yes of course. I think there are always some advantages and disadvantages. Outside it’s very loud so you often have to say things twice. And even if we have this beautiful surrounding the weather can change quickly.‘

Me: ‚So in general do you like going to school here?‘

Ally: ‚Yes I do. At first, on School days I’ve no night watch or galley duty. And you can sleep until 7 o’clock. We don’t have a long way to school so basically you can go in your pajama. I like the learning atmosphere and the 5 minutes break after each lesson. It’s more relaxed because you really get to know your teachers and they can be funny… sometimes. Another point is that, with 17 pupils it’s much more comfortable than with 25 to 30 at home. Finally, you’re more independent in what you like to learn. We don’t have homework, so we have free work, where we do some tasks on our own. You can choose the subjects you like and for 2 hours on every watch day you have time to learn on your own.‘

Me: ‚Thank you very much for the interview and have a nice day!‘

Ally: ‚I will! Good bye!‘

The students on board can choose between some subjects like astronomic navigation, marine biology, art or creative writing. On top of that they can make an internship for 3 days.
A fact is that we don’t have so many lessons and minutes get ‚lost‘ when someone screams: ‚A flying fish!‘, but a big advantage of the KUS project is that you learn in every minute. How to work with nautical charts, how to cook or how to write an English text.
Learning by doing is our daily life.
I totally agree with Ally that going to school here is fun. I know this sounds crazy, when I told my parents they couldn’t stop laughing but I really hope that my ’normal‘ school can learn from our experience and improve school more and more.