Despite their fleets of softboards, brightly coloured lycra rash shirts, and accreditation with the appropriate regulatory bodies, the Clarence Valley’s Surf Schools still fall well short of their dry land counterparts, warns leading education expert, Professor Kathleen Joyce.
“It’s all very well to learn to spring to one’s feet in a smooth motion – arms outstretched, knees bent and weight centred – but when it comes to fundamentals such as literacy, numeracy and critical thinking, surf schools fail to deliver sound learning outcomes, especially when compared to conventional education institutions such as primary and secondary schools” Ms Joyce argued yesterday.
“Call me old fashioned, but sitting on the beach while an expert instructor points out where the rips are – despite this knowledge being highly useful and possibly even life saving – hardly compares with six years of standard primary-school curriculum.
“And actually riding a wave, – as much as experiencing the glorious, sublime thrill of gliding shoreward ticks off a once-in-a-lifetime ‘bucket-list’ opportunity – I’m afraid to say it doesn’t prepare a young person for the rigors of tertiary education.
“And if you ever finally land a job interview, will the claim of having ‘stood up all the way to the beach at Wooli once’ count for anything?”
Ms Joyce did concede, however, that Surf Schools – in particular the offerings one can find along the Clarence Valley’s coastal strip – do present an excellent extra-curricular syllabus for people of all ages and skill levels, providing large and small group lessons, private tuition, and specialised coaching for intermediate and advanced surfers looking to advance their skillset.
“I would encourage parents to continue to enrol their children in conventional schools for the time being, until Surf Schools are able to suitably broaden their curriculum to incorporate the humanities and STEM disciplines,“ Ms Joyce concluded.
“But for now, it looks like the wind has swung offshore. There’s a crisp little swell running and I’m late for my four o’clock tutorial with Shane.”