Thursday, March 1, 2007

Blackboard Science

-Honey how do you cook tikoy (Chinese mooncake)?
-Google search it!
-Darling my toe has a strange swelling!
-Google search it!

Google education, that's what. Search for infos here. Type in keywords there, even type in your name.. who knows? There might be a line or two about your existence. Ever wonder why council libraries don't have too many late book returns nowadays? No one's borrowing! Have you had the feeling libraries are purely archival? Useful but the format is archaic, as we burn an extra back-up cd for our precious photos.

You've probably heard of Wacom pads, Modbooks, wireless mice, pressure pens, holographic keyboards, laser pointers, etc. Do classrooms still have blackboards? Yes, that thing where a little white stick glides on a smooth, black surface. Then teacher, at a drop of a hat, had the school smartie erase the scribblings with a woolly block. All writings gone and wiped clean. Thank you Ruben. Now listen class. I hope you remembered what was written a few minutes ago. They're solutions for a math quiz tomorrow.

Mind you ever since teacher drew on the blackboard 26 Roman heiroglyphics for us wide-eyed 6-year olds to learn, we've probably inhaled tons of micro chalkdust particles. Come to think of it decades of classroom activity might have soaked our lungs with chalkdust and now they're slowly calcifying! Ugh, what a morbid thought! Make me feel good, do tell me they didn't make asbestos chalk in those days. Here's teacher..All right class, we're pushing for a class action suit; hahaha!

Most of us got thru high school then some to college but we're still the same faces gazing at that dark, flat window of dark space where teacher etched white trails of mankind's wisdom.

Civilization got kickstarted with a blackboard just after Rosetta Stone and nearly vanished as soon as E=MC2 was written on it.

Kids who rebel on what blackboard says end up writing on walls and trains. I miss the old blackboard. If we find it empty before high school class, we're quick to write profanities and rude drawings and all erased seconds before the guru arrived. The rebellion was delicious. We trespassed teacher's turf as we naughtily smirked at class whistleblower intent at damaging our integrity as higher section students.

Forty years on and it's still heartwarming to catch a glimpse of a busy blackboard even if only watching Jack Black (Finn) educate his wards in the School of Rock movie. (internet photo from Paramount's School of Rock)

Blackboards were always part of old school student life. Beatles' lyrics were written and memorized from it. Blackboard karaoke was our way to high school rock stardom. Soon as I see one it reminded me of my high school friends that inhaled the same chalkdust of education. (Photos sent in by classmates who now reside in the United States)
Don't believe everything in the internet echoes the old saying Don't believe everything in print. Nothing's changed. We're still moulded in the primeval ways. Only direct classroom teaching is more effective, I think. Kids absorb first hand information more readily than the glass monitor. It's the human face in front of a blackboard that makes all the difference. Studies prove that new born infants are cognitive of facial features, instinctively reactive to a smile or a threat. Now blackboard is replaced by crt, plasma, lcd or projector screen. Take your pick. No more pure, white chalkdust of education particles flying around which when settled will only need a little rain of encouragement for a good water:pigment ratio. White goache paint you get! Wet chalk, I learned as a kid, reacts differently on blackboard. Sticks like solid paste and when dry is hard to erase. Okay Bart Simpson write this a hundred times on your cartoony blackboard: PUT MORE MONEY ON EDUCATION INSTEAD OF WAR!

Despite all high tech learning tools that abound, I'm still partial to a human face-to-face interaction. The humble blackboard will remain intact for and behind infant Man whose temporary scribblings shall eventually push him to intellectual progress. Mortal Man is to impermanent chalk while blackboard is to Earth, the latter to remain a writing tablet for man's history (including rock & roll:) long after the chalkdust has gone.

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At Sunday, March 11, 2007 at 11:39:00 AM GMT+11 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is interesting how kids these days learn and interact given that practically everyone 'googles' everything.

I love "wikipedia" and email makes it very convenient (and cheap) to interact with others.

But my concern is whether they (younger kids) are losing that sense of intimacy (a cousin of mine broke up with her boyfriend on 'chat'. yaiks!)

on one hand, technology inspires more creativity (check out or this girl at but on the one hand, i wonder if that's at the expense of social interaction.


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