Who are displays for?


If you enjoy creating displays then to an extent please carry on – unless you are Tarquin’s teacher! Over the years I have visited several primary classrooms as a parent. The teacher will say that Tarquin doesn’t always concentrate fully, and I’m thinking, is it any bloody wonder! You have filled every square inch of wall space with colourful stimulus. I don’t know where to look. In fact as an adult I feel exhausted after gazing around the walls.

I wonder what the effect would be if a primary teacher dared (or was allowed) to have blank walls. Perhaps there would be calmness and more focus on the task at hand. I’m just putting it out there. I suspect if we could do a trial in some way, children’s progress would not be affected from a lack of stimulating displays. They seem to be there to prove to the parents that some learning must have taken place.

I’ll stop there. I have probably offended some primary teachers reading this. What do I know?

As a secondary school teacher. I often feel guilty about the lack of display in my room. Students probably judge me in some way for not having a room as interesting as Mrs Goody two shoes. But do they learn any more because of these displays? Perhaps they learn less because of the dependency on what they see around them. There are some fairly pointless posters out there (which is why I chose the pi digits as the picture for this article.)

How many teachers will admit to spending a whole lesson on display work so that they can get some of the student’s own work up there. Despite explicit instructions against this I have found that students will often try to please the teacher by writing “maths is fun” with some coloured-in operation symbols. There’s the classic situation in which a student has carefully coloured in the letters to a word but has either missed out a letter or started off too large and has to cram in the last few letters.

Any way, please could we stop judging teachers on their displays. My displays are in our minds and the walls couldn’t possibly do justice to what goes on there [my attempt at finishing on the moral high ground].

Please tell me if I am wrong.

Max-Planck Institut; Gespräch mit Prof. Dr. Zagier

Picture taken from: