Thursday, September 5, 2013

Do blackboards make teachers stupid?

Today marks the end of my first week of classes.  To mark the event, here is what should be the last of my series of posts on the  beginning of school.

In last week's Scientific American, Evelyn Lamb (no relation) asked Blackboards Make You Stupid (Or Is It Just Me?)
I just finished my first week teaching after a few years out of the classroom. Whenever I teach, I’m struck by how much detail I need to put in my notes to make sure I don’t say something absolutely ridiculous when I’m in front of the class. Even with careful preparation, I sometimes arrive back at my office wondering why I couldn’t answer a question that perplexed me in class but suddenly seems so simple. The reason? Blackboards make me stupid, and they probably make you stupid too.

A quick search through stock photos reveals that the intelligence-suppressing powers of blackboards are well documented. But the exact amount that a person’s intelligence decreases when he or she stands at the front of a classroom with a blackboard has only recently been determined—by yours truly.

This week, I came up with a preliminary formula that describes the troubling phenomenon of Blackboard Stupidity.
I quit using blackboards when I stopped being a public school teacher 10 years ago.  Instead, I use PowerPoint.  I wonder if I'm risking Death By Power Point.


  1. that's so interesting- blackboards always made me feel much smarter... something about the power of holding the chalk and being able to write whatever i wanted that the eager students would then copy down into their notes... priceless :)

    and don't even get me started on whiteboards- all those colored markers to choose from- wow! :)

    1. Julie, you come alive in front of an audience. You're still the best guest speaker my classes have ever heard.