What a difference between school today vs. school back in the “olden” days. I know of schools whose students each receive MacBooks in middle school. Do you know what we had to use to do schoolwork? A piece of paper and a pencil. That was pretty much it. Personal computers were just being invented, and they certainly couldn’t fit on your lap. Usually the pencils we had were dull and snapped easily in the manual crank sharpeners, and they never had a working eraser. The eraser was either black from overuse, hard as a rock like a science experiment gone wrong, or worn down below its metal holder that would leave scrape marks on your paper when you tried to use it. Today, schools also use a smart board, which is a fancy projector that has an interactive touchscreen whiteboard that can link computers and allow multiple students to work together on the same problem. Back in the day, we had a chalk board linked to absolutely nothing. You couldn’t sit at your desk and quietly work on what’s projected for the whole class to see like you can with a whiteboard. No, you actually had to stand up and walk in front of the class for full humiliation if you were “called on” and forced to write an answer on the blackboard that you weren’t fully prepared to present. My generation did have projectors that overheated quickly and left burn marks on the poor kids who sat too close to the vent in the back of them. The only interactive feature to the transparencies teachers threw on the projector screen was when the teachers themselves wrote on them in class with a red marker. Teachers back in the black board days were always so much smarter than we were because they convinced us that “banging the erasers” at the end of the day outside unsupervised was a cherished and coveted job that we had to earn. What was so entertaining about hitting the black erasers against each other hard enough to create the biggest cloud of chalk dust possible that probably resulted in chalk lung because it never occurred to us to bang them away from our faces? You looked so cool with white chalk all over your clothes and hair. Your jeans looked like a forensic crime scene after dusting powder was used because you left a perfect outline of your chalk hand on both of your thighs. No matter how hard you slapped your jeans where that chalk print was, it never came off. Imagine that in your lungs. I remember we used to try to slam the erasers against the brick walls outside to get the worst of the chalk off; we thought we were so clever. We eventually graduated to the staff liner, which was a thin piece of wood with 4 metal pieces sticking out of it that each held a piece of chalk that allowed you to draw 4 straight lines on the board symmetrically and simultaneously without actually touching the chalk and getting your hands all powdery. We thought that was a huge jump in technology. Kids nowadays have access to unlimited information on the world wide web, and there we were, mesmerized by a primitive chalk stick that made pretty white lines across a chalk board. It’s a wonder we amounted to anything. Thank you to all the “old school” and “new school” teachers and the technology you have to work with, we truly appreciate you all!
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