Obviously, the décor of a room, especially if you’re stuck there for a while, can have a positive or negative effect on you. In No Exit, Sartre, for example, furnishes his room in hell in the style of the French Second Empire, i.e., too too ornately Trumpian, too floridly opulent, hence nausea-inducing.
Contemplating an eternity spent in a room like that has me reaching for my Lorazepam.
Of course, the idea of décor affecting psyches applies especially to schoolrooms. As the educational trio Dombro, Colker, and Trister Dodge (not to be confused with Emerson, Lake, and Palmer) put it in a 1997 paper: “The environment in the classroom has a profound effect on the feelings and actions of the children, their families, and the teachers. Children organize their world through the environment we provide.”
Because I generally hated school once I hit the sixth grade, I try to make my classrooms look not like laboratories of learning, but like a room in an eccentric great aunt’s house. You know, an unconventional room that doesn’t display posters addressing comma splices or spouting chirpy optimistic blandishments but a space crammed with bookcases, knickknacks, dolls, toy trucks, finger puppets.
On the walls of my room hang a tapestry, a cool industrial expressionistic painting, Tibetan prayer flags and a Hindu decoration. I’ve also propped own Photoshop generated paintings along a white board I don’t use.
This August, the Upper School moved into a newly constructed building, which though state-of-the-art and spacious, seemed sort of antiseptic so I sought the help of my spiritual advisor KD (who had harmonized my previous room via feng-shui years ago) to refashion my new room 207.
A before picture:
All of the rooms on my side of the hall share the same configuration with the teacher’s desk being the first thing you see as you walk into the door, which is a big time feng-shui no no.
In a Herculean effort, my spiritual advisor ( a wise woman about my age) and I with the help of a colleague slid the desk on a rug into the back left-hand corner and rearranged the some bookshelves where the desk had been.
A peek of the final result:
Some of these toys come in handy, Here’s Hamlet’s ghost talking to his son on the battlements.
And, of course, no classroom could be complete without an actual human skull.
On the back bulletin board, I display some of my musical heroes and have included a couple of pictures of I-and-I to show that I wasn’t always this old, comfortable kind of scarecrow
and that I too had pretty plumage once.
Old pictures tend to humanize teachers I think.
At any rate, the college counseling office has asked if they can sometimes use Room 207 when they have an overflow of reps coming, so I the energy must be inviting.
Kudos to spiritual advisor KD!