When my daughter was tiny, she began to write on her walls. I could have done what most normal parents would have done, and told her not to do it again. But I didn’t. I just told her that she could only write on the walls in her bedroom, and not on any other ones. (She never did write on any other ones, by the way.) So she got to work. Full on. Big style. And as soon as her friends realised it was okay, they joined in too. She covered the walls of her bedroom with drawings, and lists of names, and height charts, and writing, and little messages back and forth with her friends. Recently, she moved into a bigger bedroom, and her old room became my study. And now I spend my writing days looking at the marks that she made when she was small. There is something rather lovely about that.
David Didau posts a very interesting question here: “Is displaying students’ work worth the effort?” Intuitively, my sense is that it is. But it has taken me a while to figure out why my gut instinct says it’s something worth doing. I can list all the classic reasons: that a great display celebrates students’ learning, and gives them a sense of pride in seeing their work ‘published’. That displays brighten up the walls and add an aesthetic element to the classroom environment. That when we display posters, or key words, these can be used as a ‘bank’ to aid the learning that goes on in lessons. That it is an enjoyable, creative part of a teacher’s role (you may well disagree with that one). And that parents love to see their children’s work up on the walls.
But I suspect the reason I truly love them is much more basic than that: when our writing or our art touches the spaces we inhabit, we take ownership of those places. We make them ours, just like the early cave artists, or like those who scratched graffiti messages, way back when the ancient monuments were new. We say: this is mine, this is me (just like my daughter did when she was tiny). We tell others: I woz here. Even if only temporarily. And I made my mark.