Dec 032011


When Albert Einstein visited Oxford University in 1931, someone with foresight thought to preserve the blackboard he used when he was talking about the theory of relativity. When my colleague, Megan, came across Einstein’s blackboard many decades later, it intrigued her. She felt that the impressions teachers leave on their students couldn’t be captured or quantified, but with modern technology, she knew their seemingly random scribbling and half-drawn pictures or symbols could.

So she set out to capture some of them. Megan feels there’s a moment before the classroom blackboard gets wiped when the echo of the class still hangs tangibly in the air. There’s an expectation that the impressions that teachers leave on students are not as transitory or delicate, as those they leave on the blackboards. And that thought gave birth to the Blackboard Project

So here’s a request to teachers reading this. Before you wipe your next blackboard clean, please take a photo of it and email it to Megan. As she says: ‘We do not have to be Einstein to make a difference in the lives of others’. But through blackboards, she’s hoping it’s possible to capture some glimpses of the energy of ideas of classes, however random they may seem.

Here’s a blackboard picture that Megan snapped at the end of one of my classes. It’s my handwriting and I’m sure I wrote this, though I’m no longer sure why. But I think that’s actually one of the Blackboard Project’s charms. Meanings are closely related to time and context, and deciphering that can be intriguing. Who knows what will emerge if teachers from around the world share their blackboards across time and diverse contexts.

So teachers whip out your cameras and come join in this international project. Take a shot of your blackboard, white board or smart board and send it to Megan at blackboard project 1 (with no spaces).



 Posted by at 5:22 pm

  2 Responses to “Snap it and send it”

  1. This must be a coincidence, it simply can’t be true that i am that stupid ALL the time, but, i read this post got all excited and self conscious in my one to one teaching session this afternoon.
    I had a nice white board, tried to control my handwriting more than i have in the past and used my special blue pen.
    Only problem is my special blue pen turns out to be a PERMANENT marker!
    This was a bit too much prosperity than i could handle.
    However…. my client, a scientist no less, showed me that if you take a white board marker (non-permanent) and scribble over the (permanent) mess and then wipe it immediately it all comes off.
    it even works several hours later and everyone has gone home and you are still cleaning up from the days disaster.
    I think this sort of knowledge should be added to most TEFL courses.

  2. Gosh Chris, that’s true. A tip like this should clearly be included in all CELTA and Trinity courses – surely it’s much more useful than learning how to drill.

    Does anyone else have any other valuable tips like this for TEFL teachers?

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