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Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Chalk is a threat to totalitarianism

Live Science reported earlier that mathematicians are hoarding Fulltouch chalk, which was manufactured by Hagoromo Stationery in Nagoya, Japan. The original factory closed in 2015. Its equipment was sent to South Korea. Perhaps they can make chalk that is as revered.

Live Science reported in 2019, "What is so special about this chalk? Mathematicians in the video described Fulltouch in glowing terms. The chalk is long-lasting, virtually unbreakable, bright and easy to read on a chalkboard, smooth as butter to write with, and practically dustless, Jeremy Kun, a Google engineer with a Ph.D. in mathematics, wrote in a 2015 blog post bidding farewell to Fulltouch.

"So renowned is the chalk among mathematics professionals that it is accompanied by its own legend: It is impossible to write a false theorem with it, David Eisenbud, director of the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute in Oakland, California, said in the video.

"When the news broke that Fulltouch's maker was ceasing production and closing its doors, it launched a Chalkapocalypse among mathematicians, said Brian Conrad, a professor at Stanford University in California. In the video, Conrad and others recounted their responses to the chalk emergency, stocking up on enough to carry them through as much as 15 years in a chalk desert."

A decline in demand led to the end of the supply. Some fear all chalk will be gone as whiteboards and the like reduce demand.

Chalk poses two threats to society. The most obvious threat was unveiled 5 years ago during the Great Chalkening.

Remember?

Newsweek reported, "When the words Trump 2016 and other chalked messages supporting the Republican presidential front-runner appeared Monday around the Emory University campus in Atlanta, students say they immediately felt threatened. Within hours, they launched a protest.

" 'We are in pain,' one student said at a rally, according to The Emory Wheel, a student newspaper. 'I don't deserve to feel afraid at my school,' a second student reportedly said.

"Photographs of the chalkings show the words Trump, Trump 2016, and Vote Trump. Student government leaders said in a statement that 'Accept the inevitable, Trump 2016' and 'Build the Wall' also appeared in chalk. But photographs of those messages do not appear to have surfaced online, and people involved in the protests were unable to provide them to Newsweek.

"Nowmee Shehab, an Emory senior and a co-leader of Freedom at Emory University, a student coalition that was involved in the protests, says students on Monday used the group texting app GroupMe to organize a rally. They met outside of an administration building."

Eventually rain and the college president's refusal to cave in to the anti-chalk protesters ended the story.

But chalk poses a second more dangerous threat to totalitarianism. Chalk accommodates the education (not indoctrination) of students.

A reader explained this to me in an email, "I was very fortunate to have had black slate and white chalk in every teaching and learning situation I have ever been in, as student and teacher.

"From my first day of First Grade (1950) until I taught my final class (2019), including teaching situations from Pittsburgh Public Schools to Carnegie Mellon University College of Fine Arts, all slate and chalk, hard as that may be to believe.

"There was a skill to writing without squeaking. I loved having a new, long piece of chalk that had not been dropped and broken on the floor. I snapped new pieces in half before letting the children use them, to prevent their holding the long pieces as they would a pencil, guaranteeing the dreaded squeak.

"No Teflon boards with dry erase markers or Smartboards were part of my life.  I detested the look of an unwashed board at the beginning of a new day, and hated the grit and dust of an unwashed chalk tray. Toward the end, I used dry washcloths in place of erasers and laundered them weekly.

"There was an art to washing a chalk board properly. Clear water in a bucket and a proper yellowish sponge (approximately 5” x 7” x 1.5”) was required. Those sponges were part of the standard issue of classroom supplies at the beginning of the year.

"Washing a board without first erasing it left shadows. Too much water on the sponge left running drips which showed when the board had dried. Starting at the upper left of the panel, the proper procedure was to go left to right, slide down, then right to left. Deviation from this protocol was usually evident when the board had dried. The sponge had to be rinsed often enough to avoid leaving a chalky residue behind when the board had dried.

"Washing the boards used to be part of the teacher’s protocol for the end of day, along with properly aligning the roller-mounted window shades for a uniform appearance from outside.

"At this moment, I can remember the smell of a newly washed board as it dried. It has no equivalent.

"Was this ever a part of formal teacher training, or even verbalized? Not that I know of. It was a part of the culture, caught rather than taught, now disappearing, if not already gone, much like the rules for playing Hide-and-go-seek or hopscotch or taking turns at jump rope.

"They were not perfect days, but there was a framework that held many less important things together and provided a kind of security we might benefit from today."

***

Of course, the magic was not in the chalk, but in the discipline chalk required and the concern the teacher had for her pupils. The care for the chalkboard was one of her gifts to the students. Each day began with a clean board and ended with a dusty one that had to be cleaned. That gave her a sense of accomplishment, of achievement and of progress, a satisfaction that perhaps eludes today's teachers.

Her loyalty was to her students, not her school.

Education is important because it teaches us to think for ourselves, unlike indoctrination. We who think for ourselves are dangerously deplorable people to the totalitarian elitists.

21 comments:

  1. Are you sure this isn't from the Babylon Bee? I started teaching in 1997, and I have never used a blackboard in any classroom. There are a lot of traditions worth keeping, but the blackboard and chalk isn't one of them. Washing down a blackboard and clapping the erasers is only one of a myriad of chores a teacher can assign to her students to help them take responsibility for the classroom. Whiteboards are much easier for kids to see. There's no comparison between using colored markers and colored chalk. Imagine if every book you read was printed in white ink on black paper? Hoarding chalk because the company isn't making it anymore is like keeping your buggy whip in your car in case it stalls.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Your main problem is you started teaching in 1997.

      Delete
    2. I was a math/statistics major. The profs were bizarre and so were many of the students (probably include me in that list). I don’t doubt this for a minute.

      One prof would fill the board with formulas. He wore big sweaters. As he moved along, he would lean against the board, erasing what he just wrote with his sweater.

      Delete
  2. I'm a fan of a certain Geology Prof at Central Washington University.He has a prolific series of You Tube lectures on PacNW and Washington State Geology.
    His name is Nick Zetner.
    He's the Jedi Master of the chalk board. No politics either. Old school butI love it..

    ReplyDelete
  3. oh yes writing on chalkboards with chalk was fine for all you right handed people but as a lefty I felt discriminated against. You can t imagine the trauma I went through in my school years trying to write on chalkboards. as I dragged my hand thru what i had written i erased it. I blame that for my not being a scientist or mathematician , you cant imagine the shame that went along with that. i hope to start a class action suit against chalkboard makers, who will join me. Lefties of the world untie, P.S i had trouble spelling because of chalk and chalkboards

    ReplyDelete
  4. oh yes writing on chalkboards with chalk was fine for all you right handed people but as a lefty I felt discriminated against. You can t imagine the trauma I went through in my school years trying to write on chalkboards. as I dragged my hand thru what i had written i erased it. I blame that for my not being a scientist or mathematician , you cant imagine the shame that went along with that. i hope to start a class action suit against chalkboard makers, who will join me. Lefties of the world untie, P.S i had trouble spelling because of chalk and chalkboards

    ReplyDelete
  5. I have a quote from an 1815 school principal lamenting that students depend on paper and are not learning the ability to write on a slate tablet without getting chalk all over themselves.

    The whiteboard was an evolution of technology, but for an innovation in education in the last 200 years, the overhead projector prevails.

    Sadly, little else has changed in "education" (schooling) in the last century, except a move further away from teaching students how to study (requiring them think and evaluate) and toward the memoriter method of education. "The object of the teacher is to compel his pupils, first, to remember; secondly, to remember; thirdly, and evermore, to remember."

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The whiteboard has replaced the blackboard, and the smartboard has replaced the overhead projector. One was a much bigger leap than the other. Teachers, in general, are more reluctant to let go of their overhead projectors, but once they do, there's no going back.

      Delete
    2. Two words: mimeograph machine.

      Delete
  6. This takes me back to my high school geometry and algebra class. My teacher would not allow any students to mess with any of the chalkboard items.

    After every short lesson (15 minutes or so) and after we began work on our assignment, he would meticulously erase the board. First erasing the writing with the standard hand sized eraser. Then, with a clean foot long eraser, he would screed down the eraser going from the top to bottom, right to left, working across the board. This would happen several times during each class period. After class he would wash the board down after having performed his eraser ritual.

    I was both bemused and admiring with what he did because his chalkboard was immaculate.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I only have reference to the word meaning the (usually dreaded) favorite in a horse race.

    If demand for the Japanese chalk was diminishing, why was the factory moved to South Korea?

    Black-market chalk, an event of an age that the Chalkinistas now see vanishing.

    As for that Emery lunatic, Nobrain SheNeedsRehab, she is (seriously) a biological female. Compliments of the staff funny-bone:

    https://www.google.com/search?q=Nowmee+Shehab&hl=en&tbm=isch&sxsrf=ALeKk03XIqEjFoIw5v9FqJZq6NIA2yQCjA%3A1616608167275&source=hp&biw=1024&bih=435&ei=p3tbYK6BDuyOggfioLbADw&oq=Nowmee+Shehab&gs_lcp=CgNpbWcQDFDIEFjIEGCaGmgAcAB4AIABOIgBOJIBATGYAQCgAQKgAQGqAQtnd3Mtd2l6LWltZw&sclient=img&ved=0ahUKEwju8LHcvsnvAhVsh-AKHWKQDfgQ4dUDCAc

    ReplyDelete
  8. In our new world of Leftism, chalk and chalk boards (and all the other teacher tools mentioned above) are obsolete since math is racist.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Leave it to Bill Gates and chalk.

    "Could dimming the sun help to cool the Earth? Bill Gates wants to spray millions of tonnes of CHALK into the stratosphere to reflect sunlight and slow global warming - but critics fear it could be disastrous."



    https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-9392641/Bill-Gates-wants-spray-millions-tonnes-CHALK-stratosphere.html

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Lunatic...he and his wife.

      Delete
    2. Yep. And, they have big plans for us, once they finish their population experiments in Africa. God help us escape the clutches of power-hungry, billionaire lunatics.

      Delete
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