The writing on the wall for a legendary blackboard chalk-maker

The whole blackboard+chalk industry rent asunder by the whiteboards and “digital classrooms”. Can learning be ever the same again? I understand technology is imperative but digital classrooms (of the future) renders the teacher-student relationship redundant. Digitisation comes at a cost. Fascinating article!

A legendary brand of Japanese-made chalk — Hagoromo Fulltouch — coveted cultishly by American mathematicians for its peerless blackboard performance; academic mythology about no one ever writing a false theorem using Hagoromo; a warning that production was about to cease forever; chalk-hoarding and grey market chalk arbitrage by some of the world’s finest minds. Package all that with synth marimba music and professors at Berkeley and Columbia saying things like, “I assumed the secret ingredient was angel tears”, and dull old calcium carbonate becomes glistening internet gold.

As the documentary notes, the panic-buying of chalk by US mathematicians began sometime around 2015 — not long after the Japanese media reported that the ailing president of Hagoromo, Takayasu Watanabe, was shutting down the 82-year old firm. In its day, the company was a titan of chalk: its secret recipe (oyster shells and two generations of knowhow) and vastly superior quality assured a peak domestic market share of 30 per cent and prices far above the rest of the market. Then the whole industry was rent asunder by whiteboards, overhead projectors and other disruptive technology.

via The writing on the wall for a legendary blackboard chalk-maker | Financial Times