I’m torn about this Wired article about the transition in schools from traditional blackboards to hella-cool computer-driven interactive whiteboards. The part of me that digs technology and gadgetry thinks that these whiteboards sound awesome and would dearly love to have one of them to replace the traditional whiteboard behind my desk right now.
But the part of me that’s still eight-year-old Allen would miss chalk and blackboards. I had a big blackboard of my own when I was a kid and I still clearly remember sitting with it and a box of white Crayola chalk on the floor of my living room on Election Night 1980. While my parents watched Reagan boot Carter from the White House like Carter hadn’t paid rent in six months, I sat cross-legged on the floor and taught myself how to write in cursive.
I was in second grade but took reading and math with the fourth-graders, and the fourth-graders had all learned their cursive in third grade. It only took one episode of public embarrassment (I was asked to read a word on our spelling list in cursive, and I had no clue how to do so) to show me how important it was that I learn to both read and write in cursive–and I certainly couldn’t wait another year to learn it in school. So, for maybe the fisrt but certainly not the last time in my life, I taught myself what I needed to know.
The problem, of course, was that I wanted to use my new-found cursive skills all the time…even in my regular second-grade class. And I was told I couldn’t. It wasn’t fair, my teacher Mrs. Hendricks told me, for me to be using cursive when no one else in the class would be learning how to do it until the next year.
I think that was officially the birth of my sense of elitism, the first time I realized how my life could be impacted negatively by those less intelligent than I.
And by that, of course, I mean everybody.