In The Picture: History Lesson

Here’s a photo that was taken circa 1990. It shows a history lesson in progress, in one of the computer rooms. This is the sort of lesson I really like. As you can tell from looking at the picture, which was unposed, all the kids are fully engaged. The history teacher can be seen to the left of the photo, almost out of shot – literally a guide on the side. The topic, as you may have gathered, is the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, and the students, who were 14 at the time, were using a variety of sources, both digital and paper.

History in the making

I’ve annotated the photo with letters. Here’s what they indicate.



A: The history teacher.

B Two girls collaborating on researching a database.

C Girl making notes on her findings, on paper, for use in a presentation later.

D Screenshots from the JFK database showing photos that were taken at the time.

E You can’t see it very well, but that’s a box of printer paper for use in a dot matrix printer. The paper was a ream of pages joined up and perforated, like toilet paper, with sprocket holes down the sides.

F A camera. I used to use cameras in my lessons to capture what went on. Note that this was pre-digital camera days, so the camera took…

G … Film.

H Newspapers, just one of several types of resources we used in the lesson.

I It’s not very clear, but that’s a 3.5” so-called “floppy disk”. That one could hold around 740 kilobytes of data.

J A monitor. It looks very quaint now, but I’d equipped the room with Atari ST computers. Although mainly associated with games, there was a range of office and educational applications available. All the programs shared common menus, which made it very easy to learn new applications – remember, this was around the time of Windows version 1. The monitors were high definition, with black text on a white background, unlike certain other computers at the time. They were fast too.

K As far as I can tell, this is one of only two girls in the entire class who was actually listening to the teacher at the time; well, be fair: they had work to do!

If you think I’ve missed some bits which need explaining, please let me know.And please let me know if you find this sort of thing interesting.