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Tuesday, 31 March  2009  Sea Class

Peter Bolt is a teacher who loves sailing, and now he's about to start a classroom on a yacht, where he'll be teaching students all over Western Australia about life at sea.

PETER BOLT (SCHOOL TEACHER): It's just the freedom. There's no motor running. It's just the wind. You have to be very conscious of the elements around you. The shifting of the boat, the shifting of the wind. That's how explorers got around the world, that's how people got here, it's using the wind and the sails and the ocean. You're really in tune. You're just a part of the elements out there on the ocean.

LAYLA TUCAK: Primary school teacher Peter Bolt, from Albany, is as comfortable on the deck of a yacht as he is in front of a class of ten year olds.
So when the Department of Education advertised for "a teacher with sea legs" to represent them in the Clipper Round the World Yacht race, he jumped at the chance.

PETER BOLT: I was excited by the concept and then of course once I was selected that just took my excitement to a new level. Potentially it is so brilliant in bringing the outside world and this adventure into the classroom.

LAYLA TUCAK: Mr Bolt will join the crew of the WA yacht, in the Philippines this weekend. Each of the ten 68-foot boats can carry up to 20 people.

PETER BOLT: It's close. It's very personal. You don't have a shower very often.

LAYLA TUCAK: While he'll endure all the usual daily rigours of open ocean sailing, he'll also be heading up a massive virtual classroom.

Mr Bolt will be logged into the Department of Education website that'll put him in touch with thousands of school students in Western Australia through an online forum.

PETER BOLT: They can ask me any range of questions in relation to the boat that could be anything from my own personal equipment and kit and how I manage that through to hygiene, through to cooking, how do you sail a boat, how do you get on with other people, what's your role on the boat.

LAYLA TUCAK: It's an interesting way of learning that Mr Bolt says provides unique opportunities.

PETER BOLT: We can challenge kids to make their own boats and put them on the water. We can talk about when you are, imagine in the classroom, you're gonna be in the classroom for three weeks with 17 other students and when you have a conflict with somebody and you can't get out of that classroom, how are you going to do that? So, there's the personal challenge side of it.

LAYLA TUCAK: Teaching has come a long way since the days of chalk and blackboards. Students are used to working on computers and surfing the net. There's no doubt the internet adds a totally different dimension to learning.

PETER BOLT: We can talk about these things in front of a classroom or through a book, but when you can log in and get some taste for it as well it just opens up, it brings the world into the classroom.

LAYLA TUCAK: Mr Bolt believes a computer-aided sea change will do students a world of good.

PETER BOLT: I think is what we're challenged with recreationally within society. I think things like sailing and surfing, anything that's hard to learn but puts you in touch with something elemental around you is really something quite special. You can learn these things really young and they can in fact take you through the whole of your life.

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English Bites - Sea Class
story notes

Notice the word yacht has an unusual spelling and pronunciation: y-a-c-h-t, yacht. Its the only English word with this kind of spelling.

Department of Education
The Department of Education is the government department that looks after schools.

sea legs
Sea legs is the ability to feel at home on a boat, to be able to walk around on a boat without feeling unsteady or sick.

jumped at the chance
To jump at something is to eagerly accept it.

Example: She'll jump at the chance to go on TV.
Click here for more idioms and common expressions.


Rigours are difficulties or hardships.

heading up

Example: He'll head up the team.

virtual classroom
A virtual classroom is a classroom where there are no actual students. Its a classroom that only exists online, or over the internet.

on the internet


collection of things

what the food is like on the yacht


world of good
A world of good is a great deal of good or a lot of good.

Example: English Bites does your knowledge of English a world of good.
Click here for more idioms and common expressions.

What does it mean to 'sail close to the wind'?

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