Saturday 13 August 2011

Smart Boards

I was talking to some younger people today, and as it often happens, about the differences that a mere thirty years or so can make.

One of these people was a teacher. She teaches younger kids and I gather that most of them are happy and respectful, looking forward to the whole school experience. She was telling us about the “smart” board that is fast replacing the blackboard of my time. This smart board is an interactive white board. I know about white boards, in fact we have one in our kitchen to keep track of our various activities. It was once filled with times of scout meetings, girl guide cookie sale days, the times of soccer games and practices, when school trips were and how much it would cost. It was often hard to fit all of the activities in. Now, it is pretty much blank. Birthdays, doctors and dentist appointments, garbage days, blood donation date and time and anniversaries dot the calendar at random.

These new white boards are connected to computers and can display information from lesson plans, wikipedia, excerpts from books and the notes that the teacher writes. All of this can be saved as well and when a student comes up to the board his work will be saved for future reference. I know that I would never have wanted any of my embarrassing moments at the board saved in some data base in the “Cloud”.

It sounds very impressive! I wouldn’t mind having one myself, but it would probably be under used. I have read that the cost can be anywhere from $2500 to $6000. Of course you wouldn’t have to buy any more chalk, so there would be a savings there.

I am sure these are technological wonders, but I can remember that when I was in school it was a pretty big deal to be the “chalkboard eraser monitor”. You got to take the erasers at the end of the day and lean out the window, and pound the dust out of them. It was therapeutic. More than likely, it was toxic, but in that day and age no one would think anything of it. Let’s not forget that is the era when they used lead paint for cribs and asbestos was the building material of choice in schools and hospitals. It isn’t that they didn’t care, it is just that they didn’t care very much. I wonder how they reward you now for now for perfect attendance, sitting still or not making one person laugh for a day. Would you get to turn the board off? Big deal!

We talked about when we were in grade school and the big thing was being promoted from a pencil to a fountain pen. I got kind of screwed over on that one. Just around the time when my penmanship would warrant a fountain pen (yes, penmanship, it was important to be able to read peoples writing back then) the ball point pen made its appearance. They had been around for a while and took an even longer time to be accepted. We still needed blotters for those fountain pens, but the death knell had sounded. I still have a few fountain pens, but today they are used for calligraphy. They are pretty cool, but it takes a certain skill set to be good with them. Perhaps I will add calligraphy to the pile of skills that I would like to learn before I die.

So, we had a nice chat (not that you would care) and I learned that education is changing with the times. I wonder if they will start to teach people how to find jobs, balance their check books and other basic living skills. Maybe the “smart board” can help.

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