As the saying goes, “The more things change, the more things stay the same.”
This was the case when contractors uncovered 100-year-old chalkboards hiding in an Oklahoma City high school. The school was in the midst of remodeled when the contractors made the discovery.
These chalkboards give us a unique glimpse into what’s changed over the past century and what’s stayed the same. It’s a pretty incredible opportunity, given that what is documented here was the transient, day-to-day of pedagogy, which left little physical evidence behind. And it is genuinely remarkable to see the similarities in lessons from a century ago to today.
For example, every classroom had a lesson on pilgrims, showing curriculum alignment, which is still a movement in education today.
Can you believe that gorgeous handwriting? It really is a bit of a lost art, and it makes me sad that kids these days walk away from school with doctor level chicken scratch because they spend so much time typing.
Here’s an illustration of pilgrims from another classroom:
The drawings too! I can’t imagine any of my teachers freehanding something like that.
Another thing that’s stayed the same? Counting the days until a holiday break. Here’s a calendar from December 1917:
Another thing that’s changed over the years (and not for the better)? Music education, which happens far less in school today:
It’s pretty remarkable that these chalkboards stayed un-erased for this long. It’s a chance to reflect on our past so we can improve the future.