Profs at the School of Mines are worried that renovation of McLaury Hall means they’ll lose their chalkboards:
“Everybody’s really concerned that they’re going to come through and renovate this building and we’re going to get whiteboards,” said Paul Hinker, assistant professor of Mathematics and Computer Science. “None of us are big fans of the whiteboards.
…Added [Mathematics and Computer Science Associate Professor Larry] Pyeatt:
“Many of the people in this department will give up their chalkboard when they are pried from their cold, dead hands” [Stewart Huntington, “Chalk One Up for Irony: High Tech Professors Fight for Blackboards,” KOTA TV, 2017.02.14].
I’m a big marker fan. When I was little, Mom worried chalk dust would aggravate my allergies and asthma, thus sometimes denying me the opportunity to scribble arithmetic on the board. My health is stronger now, but as a teacher, I still prefer the dust-free pleasure of marker on whiteboard. No dust on my hands and black pants, no surprise squeaks on the slate, no chalk sticks breaking in my fingers, easier incorporation of color on the board—I just prefer markers.
But I can see the case for chalk. Ecologically, chalk is a simpler product, with fewer components. Responsible teachers can use almost every centimeter of chalk for its intended purpose; we use a little bit of ink and solvent from a marker, then through the bulk of the mechanism away. Chalk can lie on the board tray or wait in the closet indefinitely and still be usable; markers dry out, even in storage, thus wasting even more material, not to mention the time the teacher spends at the board testing and trashing duds before finding that one marker that still has juice.
School Outfitters offers a 16’x4′ chalkboard for $586.88 and a comparable markerboard for $525.88. A twelve-pack of chalk is 79¢. A dozen markers are $18.99. Looking just at board and writing materials, markerboards remain the cheaper option up front but cost more once you order more than three dozen markers. If we figure just one dozen writing utensils per board per year, the 20-year cost of chalkboard and chalk is $603, while the 20-year cost of markerboard and markers is $906, 50% higher.
Mines profs, you’re big math guys, so you know numbers are king. Perhaps those cost numbers are all yo need to show administration to get them to stick with chalk.
And if that doesn’t seal the deal, remind them that you are the Hardrockers, and chalk is rock, right from the mines that are your school’s middle name.