The Original Tablet

The Original Tablet

Look what I found the other day—it’s the original iPad! (Or is it some kind of droid?) Actually, it’s a teacher’s tool from yesteryear, a handheld chalkboard. It’s about the size of two notebook sheets put together, and this, like all respectable handhelds or tablets, has an attractive case—this one leather.

Actually, this is where the tablet came from—but that’s a different story. It was on display at the Ursuline Sisters’ community archives here in Cincinnati (behind glass, hence the reflection). I was visiting as part of a large group of community folks helping the school develop strategies for the future. (I suggested an app promoting Ursuline spirituality. May it happen.)

This chalkboard tablet a teacher would use, perhaps in a small group, or maybe in the mission fields, away from all of the niceties of city living. She  could demonstrate the shapes of letters, what houses look like, what animals are, play tic-tac-toe—whatever apps she could think up—she would just draw on the little slates, and, voila!

Isn’t it interesting that we’re still trying basically to do the same thing with all of our technology? We humans are wired to share our experiences with the people around us, one way or another. We’re wired to experience God, too. That’s what the Sisters, no doubt, had closest to their teaching hearts.

I took this photo because it reminds me of how ingenious Catholic Sisters have been for hundreds of years. I collected a book of essays about that, by the way, that just came out a few weeks ago: Thank You, Sisters: Stories of Women Religious and How They Enrich Our Lives. You can find out more about why Martin Sheen likes it by following the link.

Photo by John Feister


About the Author

John Feister is editor in chief of St. Anthony Messenger magazine. He has a B.A. in American Studies from University of Dayton, and master's degrees in Humanities and in Theology from Xavier University. He serves on the Board of Directors of the Catholic Press Association of the United States and Canada, and was previously an adviser to the Communications Committee of the U.S. Catholic bishops (2000-2006). His latest book, Thank You, Sisters: Stories of Women Religious and How They Enrich Our Lives is available from the Franciscan Media catalog. He has cauthored four books with Richard Rohr (Franciscan Media), and coauthored, with Charlene Smith, the biography of Thea Bowman (Orbis books).