My Chalkboard Erases Your Computer



I've read a lot about school districts using tablets to help with classroom education. In theory, it's great for subjects such as science and mathematics - students are allowed to view examples of graphs and concepts in an interactive way.  Hell, my high school now allows students to beam their work up to the board, effectively removing the requirement for kids to go up to the board and solve problems. We were still checking DOS-only email and browsing the web with Netscape while I was there.

However, this must be balanced with keeping it old school and getting your hands chalky at the chalkboard. It teaches kids how to present their work in front of others and show their thought process. Most importantly, it forces kids how to deal with an awkward situation.  Many people have a hard time going up in front of a crowd.  As much practice as possible is needed, and school is the perfect place for learning how to deal with the anxiety of butterflies.

I visited the NJ SEEDS program at The Hill School in Pottstown, PA, and sat in on a math class. I'm a proud 1994 alum of this program, and I observed an amazing thing in the classroom. The students pointed out an error in one of the teacher's calculations, and the teacher took advantage. She called students to work out why she was wrong on the board - using long division! Some kids struggled more than others, but everyone got it. Math victory!



I know it's strange to say on a science and technology blog, but sometimes classroom and instruction are better when the tech is not the dominant factor. Kids should take handwritten notes, write on the board when necessary, and learn how to deal with the awkwardness of being up in front of a group.  It will pay off in the future!