Competition history of the classroom

Published on September 21st, 2016 | by Michelle Roper-Shaw


The History of the Classroom

As the new school year is now in full swing, we take a look back on how the classroom has evolved over the years. There is also the chance to win some Silvine Summer Garden Notebooks in our latest sweepstake giveaway.

Classroom Memories

From black boards to white boards, the way we teach and learn has come a long way.

Horn bookThe Horn Book – The predecessor to the blackboard, the hornbook was originally used in England way back in the 15th century. It would comprise of a sheet containing the letters of the alphabet, vowel and consonant combinations and the Lord’s Prayer mounted onto wood, bone, leather or even stone frame with a handle.  The sheet was protected by a thin sheet of horn or mica.



slate boardThe School Slate – Set in a wooden frame, the school slate was used in all Victorian schools.  A pencil also made from slate was used to write onto the surface. Children would bring a sponge or rag to wipe their slate clean during the school day. Slates enabled schools who could not afford individual supplies of pencils and paper a way of teaching their students. However, there were disadvantages, work could not be saved for future reference and both the slate board and pencil could break if dropped.

blackboardThe Blackboard – For over 100 years the blackboard was the main tool teachers used to conduct lessons. It is thought that Edinburgh headmaster, James Pillan came up with the idea of the blackboard in order to teach geography to his students. In the 1960’s slate blackboards were replaced by “greenboards”, a steel plate coated with a porcelain based enamel which was easier to keep clean.


overhead projectorThe Overhead Projector – Back in the 1870s, the Magic Lantern projected printed images on glass frames onto darkened classroom walls. The overhead projector was then developed by 3M in the 1960s to project images and text on a clear film onto a screen or wall. By the 1970s, classrooms across the country were embracing the overhead projector or OHP as it was more affectionately known.




slide rule

The Slide Rule – Before the invention of pocket calculators, students had to use the slide rule for multiplication, division, logarithms and trigonometry. Its hay day was during the 50s and 60s before pocket calculators became  affordable and much easier to use.


pencil eraserErasers – Back in 1770 natural rubber made from plants was discovered as a way of removing pencil markings. Previous to this wax. Pumice stone even bread was used. Despite a Call for Erasers To Be Removed From Schools, a trusted eraser is still a must have for any pencil case.



silvine exercise bookExercise Books
– The school exercise book has been a part of school life for over 150 years. Although the use of tablets and laptops is now commonplace during the school day, exercise books still play a pivotal part in our children’s learning. Silvine is a brand we all know and love from our schooldays. Their iconic red exercise book with the laurel wreath logo first appeared on our school desks in the 1960s. The original conversion tables were in ounces and bushels until the 1970s when metric measurements began to be used. Whilst that famous laurel wreath has now disappeared, a wide range of Silvine Exercise Books with feint ruled, grid or plain paper is available at the Post Office Shop.


interactive whiteboard in a classroomInteractive Whiteboards – The ultimate upgrade from the blackboard, interactive whiteboards are now common place in 21st century classrooms. They allow teachers and students to interact and collaborate in a way which was not possible before. Work can be saved for future reference and can be emailed or shared on a network.



young children using a tabletTablets – In many ways tablets replicate the look of the horn book or slate of yesteryear but provide school children with the world at their fingertips. Over 70% of primary and secondary schools now use tablets. Whilst there has been much debate as to whether writing notes on tablets and laptops is as effective in terms of retaining information as the humble pen and paper, this digital technology is here to stay.


Win a selection of Silvine Summer Garden Notebooks

Silvine Summer Garden Notebooks

To get you set for the new school year we are giving three lucky winners a selection of Silvine Summer Garden Notebooks worth over £17. Simply enter your name and email address and you will be automatically entered into the draw.

The closing date for this competition is midnight Wednesday 5th October. Good luck!

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