New findings about colour, display and environment are also changing traditional approaches to displaying materials in classrooms. Whilst schools still pride themselves on celebrating pupil work by hanging it up or showcasing it in special cabinets, items such as class rules, spelling, key words, punctuation rules and times tables are no longer a common sight. Young people today are bombarded with advertisements and images, and the school has become an important place to foster a sense of calm – a haven away from these meaningless and often negative stimuli.
Research suggests that copious amounts of display items are distracting for some pupils, and not even noticed by others, who have learned to switch off from the ‘mass’ of information in their environment. Many classroom displays change little over the course of the year, and are simply added to. At this point the display loses all relevance and connection to the learning that pupils are doing. In fact pupils don’t even ‘see it’ and simply view it as part of the room decoration. Schools are now tasked with asking themselves what the most effective function of display can be.
One solution that some schools have adopted is to manage carefully monitored zones of display in the school where work can be celebrated and key messages communicated. A consistent approach to display format, for example using the same professionally-faced notice boards, also sets a calm and ordered tone. Such noticeboards need not be plain – a range of colours can brighten halls and communal spaces – but still need to be chosen strategically. Digital displays are also being employed, capturing an immediacy with messages and achievements that would be time consuming to replicate in the physical realm.