Pop Idol: What Classic Classroom Equipment Is the Greatest Ever?

Geography lessons were never the same again.

The egotists among us might consider themselves stars of the classroom, yet no flesh and bone teacher can ever compete with the giddy excitement induced by the true icons of teaching. Here we count-down the all-time top five.

  1. iPad

A relatively new entry, the popular tablet is far more advanced than anything else on the list but also far more routine, its wow factor considerably assuaged by the fact that most students have their own at home, which is unlikely to have been true of the items placing higher.

  1. Overhead projector

The old OHP might seem nothing special to modern eyes but its impact as a frontrunner in the technological revolution should not be underestimated. Classes accustomed to chalk and talk teachers with monotone drones and indecipherable handwriting were suddenly given access to a world of intelligible diagrams, charts and illustrations. Geography lessons on oxbow lakes would never be the same again. Legend tells of heroic PGCE tutors who still refuse to give up the Fresnel lens for PowerPoint.

  1. Gym wall bars

Before the days of treadmills and cross trainers, the school hall doubled up as a fitness centre thanks to the versatility of the wondrous gym wall. Like an indoor climbing frame that could be neatly tucked away for assemblies and then brought out for PE, instructions to strategically place the crash mats around the centre of the hall was code to generations of children that they were about to enjoy a better gymnastics lesson than usual.

  1. Bunsen burner

Science classrooms are, de facto, the most fun learning space (cf. the Science Museum being better than any other) and they probably contain much fancier apparatus but the humble Bunsen burner connects students with the elemental desire to make fire. Gas taps may be a constant joy to fiddle with but they pale in comparison against lighting the Bunsen.

  1. TV on wheels

Well-heeled schools might have had one per department, in others the hard-working box would traverse the whole site, although as with Daleks it remains a mystery how they ever got off the ground floor. Taking on celebrity status, seeing the TV wheeled into your classroom elicited a reaction akin to if Taylor Swift walked in today. If spotted on the move during break, there’d be animated speculation about its destination, even if recorded documentaries from BBC Two invariably failed to live up to the frenzied expectation generated by their harbinger.

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