From Slates to SmartBoards

Back in the dark ages of education (even before I went to school), students had individual slates they were supposed to bring to school every day to write on. I’ve seen them in living museums. I really don’t think I get the concept. (Yes, I know – you use chalk to make marks on the black slate then use a cloth to remove them.)

Including the wooden border, they appear to be about the dimensions of a laptop. While I can appreciate the need to be mobile, I don’t understand how you would really be able to practice penmanship or do more than a couple of math problems at a time. I guess that’s why the rich kids got to use pen and paper.

Which, sadly, is where things stood when I went to school. (Pen and paper, not slates) There was a large blackboard at the front (sometimes they were green). We used pencils for math, and pens for the other stuff. I even had a teacher who made us practice penmanship and diagram sentences, although I heard that she was the only ogre left in the profession.

I have been helping a family get ready for school this year. I cannot believe the changes. Calculators are now allowed in all grades. I am so jealous. I had to calculate logarithms by hand (I can’t even spell it now). I’m not really sure what the point to it was. I’m told that previous generations with slide rules had it easier than we did. I don’t know. I saw one once and was traumatized.

One of the requirements for the lower grades now is ear buds. Since my kids just graduated, and I had never seen that on a list, I was confused. I have seen several memos about not using them in class.

Turns out that much of the instruction on computers is oral for the younger kids. The earbuds allow them to concentrate better. Probably cuts down on talking too. I can see this as a teacher’s dream: a room full of kids learning and no noise.

It makes me think of the language lab we had in college. The system for teaching was computerized, but there was no way to listen individually. Sometimes it sounded like the UN. More often it was like trying to study in Grand Central Station.

Most people tried to be considerate, but there are always a few who really don’t get it. I can’t ever think of studying Russian there without remembering the person learning Arabic. Maybe the guy on the tape was just really loud.

The libraries have turned into media centers. According to Merriam-Webster the definition of library is “a place in which literary, musical, artistic, or reference materials (as books, manuscripts, recordings, or films) are kept for use but not for sale”.

A Media Center is a place where media is kept. (There is no official definition.) Apparently it is a media center because it now has computers. The books, magazines, newspapers, videos and audio tapes are still there. The computers are obviously technological snobs. Library was good enough for all the other media.

Students are now requested to bring supplies for the teachers too: sanitizers, tissues, band aids (?), pens, pencils. Obviously the teachers didn’t ask for the supplies. There are no requests for Valium, aspirin, or parent-teacher negotiation trainers.

One thing obviously has not changed in many years. The team mascot is the Dreadnoughts. The first time I heard it, I wondered where my education had gone wrong. I thought it was a ship. Silly me.

Who knew? They really do have a battleship as their team mascot. The dreadnought (fear nothing) was the predominant battleship of the early 20th century. It was armed with all heavy caliber guns and used steam turbine propulsion.

Nothing makes me think of 21st century high school football like steam turbine propulsion. I wonder what all those Eagles, Tigers, and Panthers think of it. I imagine it would be hard to drum up too much fear of a team when you don’t know what it is.

 

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