Chalkboard encourages civic conversations

Ashley Callan / Castleton Spartan

A new chalk wall located in the education department encourages students to answer
questions and start conversations.

To Castleton University senior Liz Diohep, there is nothing more important than educational policy. And to try to get others to share that passion, Diohep has created an inquisitive chalk wall in the education department to get students to be more involved.

Once a week, the chalk-paint-covered wall in the lobby area of the department is updated with a new question for people to respond to.

These questions range from educational policy to form of civic engagement.

The current question asks: “Should teachers be evaluated based on student performance? If not, how?”

Answers ranged from the basic “No” to more thoughtful ones like “teachers should be evaluated on student growth/progress, not just performance.”

Back in Diohep’s sophomore year, Castleton University sent her to a conference called the American Democracy Project. Many different colleges attend, and the ADP conference focuses on civic engagement.

At the conference, Diohep found out about Democracy Plaza from Purdue University.

“Democracy Plaza consists of having huge chalkboards that are updated with questions or quotes, that are prevalent and helps to get students to talk about different things within civics,” said Diohep.

The wall project is a nice addition and a great idea, said education department Senior Staff Assistant Katharine Spaulding, who notified The Spartan.

“I just want to make sure that students are recognized for their work,” said Spaulding.

Spaulding’s office window looks directly out to the wall. “This wall used to be a God awful teal color,” she said laughing,

Right before school started, Castleton facilities workers painted the wall white, and Spaulding was at ease when this process occurred.

 “After a couple of weeks into the fall semester I come in one day and the wall is dark green and I panicked. I thought not again! I’ll have to look out my window at this dark wall,” Spaulding said with a giggle.

But Spaulding said when Diohep started writing on the wall and asking questions for the students to answer, she realized this was a wonderful idea.

 “It’s great that students have a place to come and express themselves,” said Spaulding.

 Emily Gleason, professor in the education department, also praised the effort.  

“Once someone usually writes something interesting other people will add on,” said Gleason.

A problem, however, is that few know about it.

 “I had never heard of the chalk wall before, but I think it’s a great idea. I would love to see it expand to either one main spot on campus or within every department. Now that we have grown to a university, it’s important for projects to grow as well,” said junior Vidavanh Xapilak.

Diohep said she hopes the wall has lasting power.

“I would love to come back in a couple of years and see the wall expand into other departments. I feel as though that’s the ultimate goal,” said Diohep.


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