As my last post implies, I’ve been working on a project lately that has seen me spend a great many hours in front of a computer screen. I don’t have a laptop at the moment, so I’ve had to restrict myself to working from my study, which, as it happens, gets quite warm during the summer months. The air conditioner in the house doesn’t seem to reach the study (or the bedroom), and as a result I’m finding that as the day gets warmer it becomes less and less comfortable to work in there.
Today I rummaged through my girlfriend’s stuff and dug out her old laptop – it’s not an ideal development platform, but at least it means I can sit in another location where it’s a bit cooler. I’m out on the balcony at the moment – shaded and its still warm, but at least the breeze is a nice change. It’s much nicer to work out here as a result, and this got me thinking about the environment that we have our students working in at our schools.
Many of us probably work in old buildings that haven’t been maintained as well as they probably should have been since being built. With the exception of special purpose rooms that have been developed fairly recently (computer labs, for example), little gets done to make the rooms comfortable in terms of temperature and air-flow. I can’t imagine what it must be like being on the 3rd floor of a building in North Queensland in a maths class after lunch on a Friday for a kid who isn’t mathematically inclined. I find it hard to work on something I’m passionate about when it’s hot, so getting me to do something I detest (like the washing up or the ironing) is damn near impossible.
Consider the conditions that some of our non-teaching peers work in – big, air conditioned buildings with great facilities across the board. Why do we accept a less than adequate environment? Even the little things count – nice bathrooms, a decent shower so riding to work is a real option. That’s not to say that everyone works in ideal conditions, but I’d venture to suggest that in most places where the number of people in a space the size of a classroom is as high as it is for us, a little bit more is done to ensure the comfort of those present.
This probably sounds like a bit of a rant about teachers being hard done by, and I guess in part it is, but the students have even less choice than us when it comes to going to school. Many of them go to their local school because it’s convenient and all that’s available to them, and if their school is in poor condition, this has to be detrimental to their performance and their engagement in the classroom.
We all do the best we can to keep students interested in their own learning, but when we’re fighting things like physical conditions that are easily fixed with a bit of funding, it only makes our job more difficult. I wonder how many politicians would be happy working in some of our older, less-maintained schools…