by Aidan Lieberman, Neena Tarafdar & Lyanna Tran, Features Contributors
photo contributed by Jack Corcoran
Teachers can now conduct their Zoom classes from anywhere with an internet connection, which math teacher Mark Rice has used to his advantage. During the Nov. 18 community block, Rice’s computer was positioned outdoors next to his car, as he demonstrated how to change a tire for his senior advisory.
Rice has been teaching practical life skills to his senior advisory for most of the school year in an attempt to make the 30-minute community block useful and engaging for his students. By covering topics ranging from finances to college academics, Rice prepares his students for life after South.
“The most useful skill would probably be learning how to file taxes because it’s pretty universal, ” senior Jack Corcoran said.
Rice said he had the idea to provide real-world instruction to his advisory before the pandemic, but he adapted his plans to a virtual format.
“It was actually last year that he started to come up with the idea of making a bunch of presentations to teach us world skills. We only had one presentation. It was on why Newton is a really wonderful town,” senior Eva Pearlman said. “Then, school was canceled, so he took all of the presentations that he made and will now give them to us every advisory.”
For Rice, the virtual format has proved advantageous — changing his car tire is undoubtedly easier to do from his home than from a school classroom.
Pearlman said she’s found Rice’s lessons to be informative. As a relatively new driver, she said she appreciated learning what to do if she ever got in a car crash.
“It’s cool how a lot of his lessons are really logical to where we are in life,” she says.
Rice decides the content of his lessons, ones he said all students should learn eventually, based on student interest polls.
“They should be taught at home or taught at school, but they’re definitely things that you need to learn at some point and aren’t in the standard curriculum,” he said.
Corcoran said the skills Rice is teaching are both valuable and practical.
“I definitely think it’s helpful to learn them now, rather than later,” Corcoran said.
Senior David Schulz said he thinks other advisories could benefit from teaching and learning real-world skills.
“If this did get adapted and more advisories started using this plan, I don’t think it would be a bad thing at all,” he said.