A TEACHER’S WHITEBOARD BECOMES A FAMILY ENTERTAINMENT CENTER
Throughout history, people have drawn on walls. Even cavemen drew on the walls where they lived, and their artwork survived the centuries to give us a glimpse of their ancient life. Since the invention of spray paint, graffiti has been created every day (and is being painted over almost as frequently). There’s just something innately enjoyable about writing on a vertical surface—and the bigger the canvas, the better.
I wasn’t thinking about prehistoric art or illegal tagging when I bought dry-erase markers and a whiteboard. I was in grad school, and I just wanted to jot down ideas for myself and occasionally practice my “chalkboard” skills for teaching undergrads during my office hours and recitations.
During my not-so-brief tenure in grad school, my whiteboard moved with me from apartment to apartment. Various novelty wall posters rode along with it, since the whiteboard could help protect large, flimsy sheets of paper from the dangers of folding and ripping. I’ve long since tossed out the posters that used to adorn my various youthful dwellings, but I hung onto my whiteboard, which has proven its usefulness and value far beyond my original academic needs.
Before I got married, I only used the whiteboard for myself. Now my entire family uses it as an interactive communication tool. My wife leaves me reminders of chores assigned to me. I respond to her on it with notes of when my tasks are completed, along with sappy, sentimental messages that are about as romantic as an ephemeral whiteboard scrawl can be (at least for me).
But what I really didn’t expect was how entertaining a whiteboard can be for young kids. I’ve spent countless hours playing tic-tac-toe, hangman, and connect-the-dots. It’s also preventing kids from drawing directly on my walls. And I play “teacher” with them using the whiteboard, but this time around, my teaching skills seem much more valuable and enjoyable.