Sunday, April 10

Chalk and Chalk Board

When I attended school (quite a few years ago), the teacher wrote everything on a chalk board, with a crumbly piece of white chalk. In the early days, I don't recall coloured chalk.  That was later.

When my children went to school it was the chalk board too, and a little later, whiteboards came into use.  The latter was after they had finished their schooling.  This history of chalk and chalk boards is interesting, and you can read it here.   It is interesting that a Scottish man realised back in 1801 that one could write on slate - which of course became the way children wrote in class.  My mother, who was born in 1915 used a slate to write on in class.  Can you imagine writing some wonderful work and then having to "delete" it so that you could write your next lesson.  No cameras or similar to record your words of wisdom way back then.

These days teachers use whiteboards, and of course computers with "interactive whiteboards" and other fantastic technology to engage their students.

When I went to China in 2008 to teach in Shaoxing, it was back to the chalk board!!  It was rather primitive teaching then, a step back from what I had been using in Brisbane.  The chalk was cheap and crumbly too, and it broke as you wrote and plastered our clothes and hands with white dust.   It was still in use in 2010 when I returned for another semester.

In Australia we only used "bare" chalk, but I learned that in Canada they had a plastic holder which kept one's fingers from the chak dust, and in fact made it much easier to write.  One of my fellow Canadian friends gave me one of these holders and I was thrilled to be able to use it.

These days I am more likely to use a white board when teaching, but I still have my chalk holder.   Recently, a community notice board was erected in my town, and I seem to be the only one who "maintains" it, occasionally cleaning, but frequently removing the rubbish that is put on it.

It has a rubberised surface on one side, so we can "tack" notices on without damaging the surface, and on the other side is a chalk board.   So, my chalk holder has found a new use.  It has come out of "retirement" and lives in my car, so that I can quickly add information to the chalk board.

One reason the chalk board remains in popularity, even in some schools, cafe's etc, is that it is cheap.  The boards need little maintenance, and the chalk is very in expensive.  White boards are ok, provided one uses the right "white board" pen, but sadly many expensive whiteboards have been ruined by the use of permanent markers.  The writing is almost impossible to remove.  The white board pens are not expensive but more so than chalk and the latter does not seem to "walk" as do the other tools.

I think too that chalk and chalk boards have a character all of their own, that does not seem to be replicated with the whiteboard.

The interactive whiteboards are very expensive, and requires a certain set of skills, and electricity to manage them.  

I recall going to a training session on using the interactive whiteboards in a school, to learn that at that time, and it was early days in their use, that many of the teachers felt they were too time consuming, and in fact the white board was a better alternative.


My Canadian chalk holder.




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