CLEANING THE BLACKBOARD: THE PAST, THE PRESENT, THE FUTURE…

2015-10-07kids-fighting-cartoonIn the course of a Skype discussion my English language informant mocked my using the classroom expression “to clean the blackboard” because, allegedly, blackboards were not cleaned in Britain any more. Being an eternal doubter with a sort of “show-me” mentality, I googled the phrase and, with a sigh of relief (“Still, I do NOT speak Chaucer’s English!”), discovered that blackboards (aka chalkboards, whiteboards, or, simply, boards) are vibrantly alive and keep being successfully cleaned even now. Those who don’t like to clean them, may clean them off/up , or wipe, erase and rub them. The written matter can also be removed. YouTube videos demonstrated the best technologies of cleaning (I liked Benny Hill’s energetic approach at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y_ANwPJtyqM  and auto-cleaning when an automatic  eraser moves slowly from left to right making the board “clean and prepared” —  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1xwCwbKrZQc  ).

However, I thought that there was something rational in what my English critic said. With the current societal, political and demographic trends, changes are sure to invade our everyday lives, and teachers of English cannot disregard them. The notorious “board” can be an example. Cleaning a smartboard is different from cleaning the blackboard, since the former action is not about removing what has been written but about cleaning the screen and involves such steps as shutting down your board and the connected computer, dusting the board with a damp cloth, getting ready with an erase solution, etc.

I wondered what traditional conversational topics, which students of English usually learn, would look like in about fifty years. By way of example, I took the topic ABOUT MYSELF (“My name is…, I get up at…, etc)

My name is Futuro. I get up at 11 o’clock in the morning. I do not know if I am a girl or a boy because I will be deciding about my true gender when I come of age. I have two parents. Theirs is a same-sex marriage, that’s why I do not know which of them is my Dad or my Mom. I address them as P1 (Parent One) and P2 (Parent  Two). Until recently they used to take me to school by car, except for one day in the year when we observed International Walk-to-School Day (hmph…). Then I had to walk to school. Now I am on a home schooling program because I am already through with the elementary courses of Bullying, Smoking, Drug-Abuse and Obscene-Language Usage. At the moment I’m reading a book “How to Scare and Snare Other People”. It’s a required item of my home school curriculum. Alongside I have to do the project “The Frequency and Meaning of Expressive Interjections in Modern Literature for Children.” So far I have found out that the words yuck (to express disgust), eek (unpleasant surprise), boo (to provoke fright) and hee-hee (a mischievous laugh) make up 49 per cent of all the words used in my book. I go to bed when I want to.

And that’s that.

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