We’ve heard of whiteboard, and we’ve heard of blackboards, but what about green boards?! Well, it might surprise you to know that the vast majority of blackboards are not actually black! Hold on, you’re saying, that’s surely a misnomer, right? Well, believe it or not, it’s actually a fact – most blackboards are actually, technically green! Are you as confused as we are yet?
It seems crazy that we should call these boards backboards when their principal color is not actually black, but it seems as though the name has stuck over the years. So, it turns out that a large portion of the chalkboards we see these days are actually green in color, and we’re going to try to shed some light on why this is, and when the change came about.
Back in the day
So, why are chalkboards called blackboards if they are actually green? This is one of the two burning questions to answer. And, the answer to this one seems fairly straightforward – it’s because they used to be black. Two hundred years ago, when blackboards first came into use, they were actually boards with connected slates that a teacher could write on for their classes and use to teach with. In fact, the name blackboard was coined at this time, but not until around 1815. And it wasn’t always slate that was used – some areas used wooden boards that were painted in a dark color.
Of course, these were the most rudimentary forms of blackboards that existed, and, they evolved over the years. As industry and the economy grew, so did the capacity for design and science, and soon, blackboards were made of a sturdy wood that was darkened with a kind of porcelain-based ink product – this is what gave them their black color. In fact, some of these chalkboards can actually still be found in older schools across the Western world, and they played a big role in early classroom learning.
Why the change?
Well, the original blackboards were a huge success, and almost ubiquitous in schools up until the early 1900s. Around 1930, companies began to manufacture what we know as the ‘green board,’ a chalkboard using a green porcelain enameled paint. The idea behind this was that it was more pleasant to look at over the course of a day, as the green paint reduced glare. Teachers found this was much more beneficial to the class, and improved their capacity for learning. Pretty soon, these green alternatives were slowly introduced throughout schools as replacements for original blackboards.
As we are all aware, these days blackboards are a little archaic, as most schools switched to whiteboards. These are more efficient, create less mess, and don’t have that horrible screeching sound to contend with. Whiteboards are now the primary source of learning in modern classrooms, but that doesn’t mean blackboards have fully died out. Quite a few schools still have blackboards, even if it’s just one. It’s interesting to hear a little more about the history and background of these boards, and what it was that made them turn green in the first place.