The big argument: Are whiteboards better than blackboards?

Board yet? You will be.


Yes: whiteboards every time, argues Ellen Jolley

I do see the irony of writing an anti-blackboard piece in a magazine called Chalkdust, but I have to be honest: writing on a blackboard is simply not practical, and sadly the dust in particular is a key culprit. Sure, we all feel smart and fancy writing our equations on blackboards—but what about afterwards when you look down to find your treasured Chalkdust T-shirt caked in its namesake? Not so fancy now are we? The problem doesn’t stop at your clothes either: your hands, all the surfaces in the room, the board itself, the insides of your students’ lungs… Expect a layer of residue covering each.

We can’t blame the dust for everything: of course we cannot forget that blackboards are also the source of the noise which is universally accepted to be the worst ever. Even keeping your fingernails out of the fray, the chalk itself is constantly squeaking. It is also harder and slower to write with chalk than with a marker, it’s a much bigger pain to rub off, and it constantly snaps or shrinks.

Old-fashioned is generally not better (hence how it came to be old-fashioned), and mathematicians’ insistence on using this ridiculous medium does nothing but harm our carefully crafted reputation as cool-headed, logical people. Time to leave chalkdust where it belongs: on the cover of this magazine and nowhere else.

No: blackboards are our raison d’être, argues Sophie Maclean

Without blackboards being associated with maths, we wouldn’t associate chalk with maths.

Without chalk being associated with maths, we wouldn’t associate chalkdust with maths.

Without chalkdust being associated with maths, we wouldn’t have Chalkdust.

Ergo, without blackboards, we wouldn’t have Chalkdust. Need I say any more?

Ellen is a PhD student at UCL studying fluid mechanics. She specialises in the flow around droplets and ice particles.

Sophie Maclean is a recent maths graduate from the University of Cambridge and very much misses her degree. She has no free time—she is a Chalkdust editor.

More from Chalkdust