I taught with chalk today. I cannot say when I last did that. We used to use chalkboards but it has been a long time. Now it is PowerPoints and whiteboards and models, posters and toys. My job today was to teach ‘carbohydrates’ to Senior 5 and 6 students (grade 11 and 12). I had 4 pieces of chalk, one brush and one small board. I don’t really see how the class, although small, could see the messy chalk. Apparently they did. I had an idea of what I wanted to say and the structure of the lesson but the regular teacher wanted a lot of detail. OK, leave a text there so I can remember the chemical structure of glucose and sucrose and I should be fine. I was lucky because it was possible to draw the figures on the board but how would you teach the respiratory system without visual aids? We all know how well I draw…not. This is where the schools need a bit of help. They have some nice posters and the odd model (a huge heart, an ear and a section of skin) but they need more. The students rely heavily on their textbooks which are good ones but a bit old. What about the student who is a visual learner? I am not sure they can accommodate for that. The emphasis is on lecturing and note taking. Yet the students do very well. They seem to succeed without bells and whistles but could our students? Did I mention that they start school at 8:30 and finish at 4:15. However they are often studying into the wee hours because there is a lot of competition to get into University. We visited KSS today; not Kelowna Secondary School, but Kawanda Secondary School. It has a student population of 1000, 600 of whom live in dorms. The grounds are beautiful, the buildings simple and the instructors who I met are very devoted to giving the students everything. They are very lucky.