The History of School Blackboards

Scientists have known to work out some of their toughest mathematical problems on black boards. Einstein used it to jot down all his formulas. corporate now conduct quickie training programs while teachers across the world have used it to impart education. An effective medium for mass education, the whiteboards have also led to a series of “brain storming” series on the latest theories, hypothesis and concepts among a group of people at one shot.

The very first black board used in a school was in Philadelphia in 1809. Early blackboards were made from pine lumber and covered with a mixture of egg white and carbon from charred potatoes. Teachers and students wrote with chunks of chalk and erased what they wrote with cloth rags. The slate boards available, were made of a wood board painted over with black grit and teachers used cylinders or white, soft chalk and a felt eraser. Teachers would have to copy whatever they wanted to write on the board to on each child’s slate. Those who could afford it managed to buy themselves porcelain slates which were imported from the United Kingdom. When Mrs. Olive M. Isbell opened the first school in California in the year 1846 it was a challenge to teach the children at that time because there was no slate, blackboard and paper, and eventually the alphabets came to be written on the back of her student’s hands.

The basic stationary comprising of pencils and paper were often in short supply and some families couldn’t even afford it. Making mass copies of notes was a rarity because there were no Xerox machines at that time. James Pillans, the Headmaster cum geography teacher of the Old High School of Edinburgh, Scotland, finally invented the blackboard and colored chalk so that he could teach geography to his students better. In the year 1801, George Baron, a teacher at West Point Military Academy, incorporated a large black chalk board for the first time to present his math topic. By the mid-1800s, a blackboard was to be found in almost every school and had become the single most important educational tool. Chalk boards remained the fundamental basic educational fixture in schoolrooms and will always be, despite smart classes making their appearance on the educational front.

The blackboard had revolutionized education! However, teachers today are less dependent on blackboards and whiteboards and many of them opt to use an overhead projector or computer with presentation software. However, many teachers prefer to circulate among students in the room and work with them one-on-one or in small groups. But with the varieties in Black boards, right from the flexible roller boards, to the ones that are lifted vertically, to those that can be used both sides by students.

The blackboard however, though traditional, has its own disadvantages. It is limited in width and breadth and length and can therefore take in limited information. The earlier content has to be rubbed off, frequently. At times, students are slow in copying from the black board and this leads to a waste of time in class. The blackboard content unlike online content cannot be reviewed backwards and forwards at any time from anywhere. That’s why the future lies in smart classes.

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