What’s Old is New Again

blank whiteboard with markers near the bottom

Good day, Gentle Readers:

I am old-school: I write with a fountain pen, I tie a bow tie, I listen to records, my car has manual transmission1, I shoot film . . .

But I’m not a dinosaur.

My house has electricity and a flush toilet. I use word-processing2, spreadsheets, molecular modeling software3, and the like. After a protracted battle with our IT man almost 20 years ago, I came to embrace PowerPoint. I have produced approximately 100 such lessons on just about every topic in 11 and AP Chemistry. While I use these in-class, I write ‘em for home use, with color-coding to make a fashion designer blush, animations, diagrams and photos—and plenty of concept-repetition to ensure that different types of learners will understand.

Last week, for reasons that are above my pay grade, the Chem Lab’s Wi-Fi went awry. I was forced to resort to a Socratic lesson—a “chalk talk”4—in the parlance of my youth. As far as I could tell, things went well. My AP students, many of whom were the product of my 11 Chemistry, were engaged; they asked questions; we got the work done.

In the dénouement of the class, several students—unprompted—commented on how they preferred the old-school lesson, with the PPT left for at-home use. Out of curiosity, I taught my other two sections the same way, with identical responses.

Who knew?

May peace be with you.


  1. pardon the pun, but my wife gives me the gears for buying this car
  2. I call it typing . . .
  3. I use ODYSSEY Molecular Explorer 6.0 Instructor Edition for classroom use on a data projector. This is worth every penny—especially when the school pays for it.
  4. on a white board, mind you