Forget ‘Grand Designs’ – I’m an Ikea Market Hall kind of teacher

As Robert Duvall so famously said in ‘Apocalypse Now’, ‘I love the smell of flat-pack furniture in the morning.
Or something like that.


When I go to Ikea, (the world-famous, spiritual home of the flat-pack) it is usually a visit of two contrasting halves. And so it proved this week.
The first half is one that provokes only feelings of inadequacy and dread within me as a DIY-phobe. This is the part of the store where you meander (according to an all too carefully designed route) past showroom examples of how various rooms in your house could look, if you should choose to outlay many hundreds of pounds on your very own ‘grand design’. This is the time where I hold my breath, wondering if my (far better) other half will fall irreversibly for one of these designs and hoping against hope that she doesn’t. I’m not one for big projects and huge change, you see.
My manner changes considerably when we enter the second half of the visit, the Market Hall. This is where all the cheap (and incredibly useful) little knick-knacks are to be found. This area appeals to me. In no time, you have a big yellow Ikea bag full to bursting with toilet brushes, doormats, plastic kitchen utensils and red serviettes. They will not make a huge change to your domestic arrangements, but (each in their own small way) will bring something slightly different or new, or make one small element of your life a little easier. Not only this, but these articles are almost always ready for immediate use. They require no assembly and therefore come with no manuals containing hieroglyphs. Marvellous! Our new doormat is now a colourful welcomer to our home. It went straight from the car boot to the front doorstep and is an instant hit.

I have this attitude in the classroom. There are times, when big overhauls and ‘grand designs’ are required. A scheme of work needs to be written or a major new whole-school policy needs to be rolled out. Agreed.
However, (particularly in the classroom) I am in favour of the Ikea Market Hall approach.
Nowadays there are so many simple, straight-out-of-the-box resources which can add colour, creativity and interest to a lesson. They come from web sites, shared ideas (on Twitter, of course), TeachMeets and many other sources. All of them are ready-to-go and can bring that key element of variety to our lessons: music, competitions, games, learning activities of all types.

Those arriving at our house in the coming days will notice no major change on the outside, but the welcome awaiting them on the inside will be slightly more colourful now. What are the ready-made and easy-to-make changes that we can make to our lessons that can bring a similar dash of colour?