White Chalk, Red Duster &.. The ‘Blackboard’

A summer morning, 1800. Old High School of Edinburgh, Scotland.

The headmaster is taking geography class. Suddenly, he becomes worried about his lesson. It’s a chapter which is required to be taught with a larger map, in a broader place. But in the slate, he can draw just the outlines. How the students will be able to see the places mentioned in the text?? He started thinking. And very soon, he had an idea. He gathered all the slates of the students in that class. Then, he connected them on the table. Thus, the smaller slates are transformed into a single grand field. Ohhh!! What a great idea it was!! That grand field became the most important tool for the very beginning of our school days. It’s, The Blackboard!!

Chalkboard three times tables

In 1801, George Baron, a West Point mathematics teacher also started a board of connected slates. He found it the most effective yet the easiest way to illustrate the complex formulas to a larger no of students.

The blackboard is a wonderful place to a mistake. You write a word here with a chalk. If it is misspelt, you can erase it with the duster. That was the first lesson we learnt though the Blackboard..the lesson of doing a mistake, and find a learning from it. We made a lot of memories in school days, witnessing the blackboard. When the teacher was writing the notes on the blackboard, we were busy with making funs…sketching on the last page of notebook, chatting with the best friend or sharing the lunchbox hiding from the teacher. A li’l grown up, we shared our glances of shy with the childhood buddy..we lost in thought of the dream castle..In the Life Science class, we were in the middle way of our voyage with the ship of theseus..

Although, the term Blackboard did not appear until 1815, the use of these many-slates-connected-single-board, spread quickly. By 1809, every public school in Philadelphia was using them. Teachers adopted this idea for its flexibility and versatility. It was just like a blank white page, where they can write anything with large letters and diagrams. They can teach the lesson with all the students sitting together. They can reach their lectures to the full class. Thus teaching met the most durable tool of effective learning, the blackboard.

In 19th Century, it was made from scratch, rough pine boards nailed together and covered with a mixture of egg whites and the carbon leavings from charred potatoes. By 1840, they were manufactured smoothly planed wooden boards coated with a thick, porcelain-based paint. Black was the traditional color for blackboards, in 1930, a green porcelain surface cut down on glare, and as this green surface became more common, the word Chalkboard came into use.

The blackboard was the beginning of our journey…towards our dreams. Today, we’re all grown up..but, the li’l girl still recollects her best childhood memories she had in front of the blackboard. She loves to cherish her school days, writing the first sentence she learnt, again in the blackboard. The li’l boy still wants to draw the first geometry shape he learnt in the blackboard. He wants to make the paper plane with the class test marksheet again, and take the flight off to the blackboard..We have the child alive within us, so we celebrate our childhood in our busy days, too. We celebrate every day, Happy Childrens’ Day!!


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