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Learning Tools

At the Museum of African Art this past weekend, I came across an item I didn’t think belonged. Yet, here it was: a child’s learning tool.

In school, children need tools to learn. Today, it is the computer. Back in American one-room schoolhouses, with scarce paper and pencils, students used individual chalkboards. In mid-19th century Nigeria, it was Koranic writing boards.

Young Moslem students used ink on these boards to learn to read and write the Koran. Once they learned a Sura, a passage from the Koran, these boards were washed for the next lesson. Up-close, I could see the current lesson plus lessons that had been washed away.

I was amazed to see this tool in an art museum. Yet, as I saw the way the letters played with each other through the layers of script, to me, it became art.

And from an everyday learning tool!

Koranic writing board   koranic writing boards 2   koranic writing boards close up

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