Friday, July 20, 2012

The Times They Keep A-Changing

Back in the days when Year 6 was called Standard 4, I was in a class with a teacher who taught the whole class the skills for reading very simple music and playing it on the recorder. To this day, I can still do a stirring rendition of The British Grenadiers upon request. It was always very exciting when Mr McKirdy passed out the latest piece of new music - not for musical reasons, but because it gave the opportunity for a little early substance abuse. Everyone would put the paper to their nose and breathe deeply to inhale the banda fluid fumes. When I became a teacher this was still the only way to produce class sets of any sort of document. It involved making a banda master which was run through the machine by turning the handle. It was a messy business from start to finish and you could always spot teachers in a crowd as they were the ones with ink from banda masters smudged on faces and hands. 

Other work was from a blackboard. By dipping the chalk in milk it was possible to create more enduring lines and labels, while everything else was rubbed off in a whirl of chalk dust, which coated anyone in close proximity. Washing down the blackboard was a weekly ritual.

And then times began to change. The photocopier replaced the banda machine and whiteboards replaced blackboards. I initially found whiteboards very challenging - they did not give the same resistance as chalk and the pens would whizz off in unexpected direction and, like the banda masters, often left their mark on my face. Then came computers and all the delights and challenges they provide.

In the holidays my classroom fast-forwarded technologically once again, this time to an interactive whiteboard. Anything on the computer can be projected. It replaces a CD or DVD player, it performs what might have once been the tasks of an OHP. E-books can be shared with the whole class. When functioning in whiteboard mode it comes with all sorts of bells and whistles - and it uses electronic pens. Teaching really has become a whole lot less messy. The children are finding it all very engaging and already navigate the menu choices with ease. They live in exciting times - but they never will know the delight of that first deep inhale from paper fresh off the banda.

Imagine how much more pleasing this would sound on my sturdy old recorder - remember, you just have to ask!

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