A chalkboard stands adorned with lovely cursive writing. Some may argue that this is the superior medium for vertical writing. PHOTO COURTESY OF PEAKPX
Associate Opinion Editor
You realize time cannot be wasted on looking, it must be spent doing. So, you grab the freshest stick of chalk available and, without hesitation, you go to work. The dust shrouds you in a cloud of determination. White sparks seem to jump with every deliberate stroke. Your slow strokes prevent any shrill whistles while also allowing the process to seep into the minds of all those present. You step back and admire your work. Your teacher gives you praise, and you turn around expecting a call for an encore, but are met with only blank stares.
This doesn’t bother you because you know you did great. You have the chalk stains on your clothes to prove it. You take one last look at the board before setting down your chalk. That one look was all it took to transfer the problem into your memory book. You replace the chalk to its original resting spot and confidently stroll back to your seat, letting your chalk scent fill the nostrils of everyone you pass, just as it filled yours in the beginning.
Picture this: it’s a cool November day, you hear the wind rustling the leaves through the opened classroom windows. The remnants of a rainstorm fall harmlessly against the metal mesh. Two squirrels play a game of tag too complex for you to follow. You hear your name called from the far away land of the teacher’s desk. You snap your head around to see the whole class staring you down. You ask what the question was, and the teacher responds with a point to the chalkboard. You slowly shift your focus over, and what lies before is a series of equations never seen before just now.
With a slight hesitation you stand up, knowing that inaction will only lead to consequence. You brave the crushing gaze of your teacher and cautiously walk to the board. With every step, the smell of chalk overcomes you with a sense of connection to the natural world. A piece of earth tamed just to be used for your academic advancement. Newfound confidence arises from within as you remember all the times you and your trusty chalk came through together.
You analyze the problem for a split second and a solution begins to form in your head.
The latest classroom-board technological advancements have created a learning environment that paints chalkboards out to be a nuisance. White boards offer crisp lines, vibrant colors and an easy to clean surface. Smart boards offer unending possibilities with their absolute reliance on modern technology to bear the burden of knowledge. The question is, where’s the use in pointless complication?
Let’s recall the story. Because you didn’t need to focus on what colored marker to use or contemplate the nature of the smart board, you were able direct your full attention to the problem at hand. The problem had no bells or whistles to it. Zero distractions. Just you versus the prospect of a solution.
The solution didn’t come easy. But, because of the soothing memories brought to you by the feel and scent of chalk, your nerves were settled and the solution came a little easier. A whiteboard marker would only greet you with manufactured smoothness and a harsh stench of possible carcinogens. The smartboard provides you with zero sensory stimulation. It’s simply a projection. Isn’t that nice, your only hope to learn could be lost with a flip of a switch.
Granted, whiteboards and smartboards do not run the risk of shrill noises. But, is that such a good thing? Everyone knows of the possibility of a mistroke with chalk, so they write extra carefully. This extra care adds to the tenderness you feel towards the writing because you must be deliberate. Deliberate thinking is the same as critical thinking. So, slowing down your writing speed gives you time to think critically, while also allowing the audience to think right alongside you.
Then there’s the dust. It gets all over the room, all over your clothes. And you know what, who cares? Isn’t that what vacuums and washing machines are for? Those stains are just little tokens of accomplishment. Little fragments of memory that imprint the information in your mind. Reminders of your courageous act of standing in front of the class and solving a problem that you didn’t even know existed before you took those first fateful steps.
Chalk and chalkboards are nothing less than a feat of educational perfection, and I believe they deserve glorification instead of poor replication.