Tabula Rasa - The performative and unique materiality of the blackboard

Marius Wahl Gran

Abstract


This article is about the use of the blackboards in Waldorf education today. The blackboard still has a central position in the daily practice of Waldorf teachers. This article is based on three ideas and my own empirical research. First it discusses the teacher‘s blackboard activity as a form of performance. The teacher is here understood as a performer who performs chalkboard activity in front of pupils. Performance means that there is an interaction between the artwork, the person performing, as an act of dancing, singing, painting etc. and an audience. In the second idea, the blackboard is understood as a surface where the teacher makes site-specific images and texts. Here is the term unique (Benjamin, 2013) used. Benjamin‘s concept is here applied in relation to when teachers draw pictures by hand with chalk on the blackboard. The concept highlights the uniqueness of the created images and text representations in a specific educational context. The third idea is based on the materiality of the blackboard and its significance for the human relations to the blackboard in an educational context. Aspects that the blackboard has in itself as a blackboard and the materials related to this, such as a sponge and chalk are taken into account. Here is the concept focusing feature (Sørensen, 2009) central. The blackboard is in this context regarded as a focal point in the classroom, with its own voice. Blackboard features, materials, and the relationships between blackboard, teacher and pupils are therefore central in this context. Teaching materials like blackboards are in this sense viewed as invisible partners in educational activities.

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