What We Have Lost and What We Have Gained

Classrooms have this magical quality of changing with the times but, somehow, remaining absolutely familiar. They include the same components, but in evolving formats. As a teacher of long-standing, I look back at some classroom resources with nostalgia but, at the same time, applaud twenty-first century innovations.

However, one of the classroom features I do miss is the tall frame at the front of the room that would hold two blackboards that were able to be adjusted for height. The only problem came when the rope broke. On second thought, I do not miss the chalk dust and the dry fingers but, being short, these boards were so versatile and practical for me—and they held so much information. White boards and markers were never quite the same.

This moveable blackboard was accompanied by a large, solid wooden desk. One of these teacher tables is still found in the foyer of the Elizabeth Jameson Research Learning Centre. This was set on a raised platform or dais—also a boon for someone as vertically challenged as I am. That extra height certainly gave you a sense of gravitas—as well as visibility. While this idea that the teacher should be ‘put on a pedestal’ or ‘the sage on the stage’ is not one the School promotes, it is nevertheless true that the role of the teacher has always been important at Girls Grammar. From the earliest years, the imperative has been to hire the most qualified to provide the best for our students.

Twenty-first century teachers do not see themselves as the disseminator of all truth and, personally, I love that aspect of the modern classroom that makes the ‘front’ a moveable, or even a redundant, concept. The shift of the classroom is now more correctly a focus on the student and her learning. Modern screen projectors communicate and design activities so much more dynamically, but it was hard to lose that last vestige of the classroom I experienced as a student and teacher. I often wish that at least one was saved.

Mrs Kristine Cooke (1967)
Director of Information Services

Blackboards in W2.4 in 1970s

Miss Elliott teaching with the movable blackboard in W2.1 in 1965

The pine teacher’s desk in the Elizabeth Jameson Research Learning Centre 2020

A classroom on the second floor of the Main Building in 2019

Opening of the refurbished Science laboratories in 2003 (note the moveable white boards)