Categories: History

Why Blackboards Are Usually Green, NOT Black

In case you've always wondered, here's why!

  • Historically, blackboards were mostly black back in the days.
  • The color eventually changed to green but the name stayed the same.

Ever wondered why blackboards are called that despite them being green? We bet this has crossed your mind at least once but in case you’ve never bothered to do a research about it, we’re giving you the answer right now.

Well according to history, blackboards were indeed black in the past. The book Blackboard: A Personal History of the Classroom by Lewis Buzbee tells us that blackboards were first used in the classroom in the early 1800s. The name blackboard was only used started 1815.

In a ReadersDigest article, we learn that the first chalkboards were “mini boards made of slate or painted wood” used by students. These boards eventually paved the way for the bigger versions that we know today.

It began when Scottish headmaster James Pillans asked his students to draw maps but they couldn’t do it in their small boards. Pillans then decided to place several boards together to form a big one and the rest, as they say, is history.

The idea caused excitement among many teachers as larger boards gave them the freedom to teach more of their students at the same time. In 1840, manufacturers started shipping large slates for use in American and European classrooms.

Eventually, the color of the boards started to see some change “when companies sold steel plates coated with green porcelain-based enamel instead of the traditional dark slate,” wrote RD.

In comparison, the new material was “lighter and less fragile than the first blackboards, so they were cheaper to ship and more likely to survive the journey,” the website added. Moreover, chalk powder were easier to erase on the new boards.

Although some started to coin the term “chalkboard,” others still referred to them as “blackboards” which has continued to our time.

And while many schools are already using whiteboards nowdays, it stll has to be said that the “inventor or introducer of the black-board system deserves to be ranked among the best contributors to learning and science, if not among the greatest benefactors of mankind,” reads an 1841 teaching manual entitled The Blackboard in the Primary School.

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