A closer look: On the walls of Clarke’s classroom

A+broken+Elvis+clock+is+one+of+the+many+objects+on+Clarke%E2%80%99s+classroom+walls.+Photo+by+Amita+Mahajan.+

A broken Elvis clock is one of the many objects on Clarke’s classroom walls. Photo by Amita Mahajan.

Amita Mahajan

Crossword-puzzles, collages, Elvis. These three seemingly unrelated objects carry a single similarity — they take the forms of clocks in English teacher David Clarke’s classroom. The total number of timers ticks at 11.

A broken Elvis clock is one of the many objects on Clarke’s classroom walls. Photo by Amita Mahajan.
A broken Elvis clock is one of the many objects on Clarke’s classroom walls. Photo by Amita Mahajan.

Yet many of these devices go unnoticed on a first visit to his class as they are surrounded by posters, quotes, drawings, buttons, string and literary action figures.

Despite the wide variety, Clarke has no favorite object.

“Everything has some sort of significance to it, or can be talked about in some way,” he said.

Many students refer to Clarke’s classroom in a positive tone.

“I honestly think [the objects] set up a good atmosphere,” sophomore Srijani Saha, a student in Clarke’s World Core class, said. “Mr. Clarke’s pretty open about the stories [behind the objects] and it always makes class more interesting.”

While the exuberance of the decorations may run the risk of distracting students, most of Clarke’s students would prefer to keep the wide variety of posters and objects as opposed to bare walls. Jennifer Huang, a sophomore in Clarke’s class, is one of them.

“I’d rather [he kept] his walls filled with stuff so when you do get bored you can look at things,” Huang said.

Clarke receives about a fifth of the classroom posters and objects as gifts. He buys buttons, prints out posters and puts up interesting catchphrases to fill up the rest of the space.

“The basic idea in it is…it’s stuff we can talk about when we want to talk about random stuff,” Clarke said.

Scroll over the images to see a story about Clarke’s classroom objects

Yet one of the main attractions in Clarke’s room sits not on the walls, but on the floor itself. His red, semi-rocking chair made many of his last year’s students curious to sit in the seat he grades, talks and naps on.

The chair is from IKEA, a Scandinavian design company Clarke holds in high regard.

“IKEA’s like a museum. I go [to IKEA] five or six times a year…I just walk through and I look at stuff because it’s interesting,” Clarke said. “There’s a lot of thought and effort and real intelligence that goes into the stuff they build.”

Clarke admits that he often uses the chair to take power naps. Combined with an ability to slip into a dream-like state of sleep in about 10 minutes, he finds the chair to be a perfect way to recharge before continuing his day.

“It’s nice to sleep in it for about a half an hour and then it becomes uncomfortable, and that’s about as long as you want to sleep in a chair,” Clarke said.

Clarke’s classroom is covered with posters, pictures and sayings. Photo by Amita Mahajan.
Clarke’s classroom is covered with posters, pictures and sayings. Photo by Amita Mahajan.

Clarke also “hacks” much of the furniture he buys from IKEA using online guides. He has previously turned bookshelves into beds and a table into a rolling stand.

At the end of the day, Clarke also has a purpose behind the clocks.

“We are regimented by the clock here as much as we would like to not think that,” Clarke said. “We operate by time.”