I set up some butcher paper (though I am doubtful that anyone has actually slaughtered an animal in our staff lounge) on the wall and ask students to respond to my comment, “I’m going to miss this class.” I also set up a “class wall” where students can arbitrarily add their own comments.
It’s primitive. Cave walls. Graven images. Simple, perhaps, but more complex in its simplicity. We are limited and yet, these limitations foster the creative impulse. Students not only write comments, but they also sketch pictures, change colors, alter hand-writing and draw arrows to comments. On Facebook, my wall is linear. In my classroom, the wall is a web.
It’s more than that, though. “My wall” quickly becomes a collective space and it’s nearly impossible to differentiate the two sides. On Facebook, my wall is always mine. In the classroom, the wall is ours.
“That looks pretty cool,” I mention to a student.
“I guess so,” he says.
“What do you mean?” I ask.
“I guess it’s nice to write on a wall. That’s the appeal of tagging. But I like that,” he points to the mural on our wall.
“Why?” I ask him.
“It’s us without the words,” he says.
His friend says, “Besides, we won’t throw it away a day later.”