Open Thinkering


I don’t like paper

Stack of paper

I don’t like paper. You can probably tell that by my desk at school which tends to be cluttered. I don’t mind that too much (my Dad’s desk used to have a sign on his saying “A cluttered desk is a sign of genius”) but it’s unnecessary in this day and age. Most of the stuff I receive in my pigeon-hole I either look at, remember, then throw in the bin (yes, we are without a whole-school recycling scheme at present) or keep until a certain date, then throw away.

What we need is what a lot of schools already have: an effective email system coupled to organised document storage. The technology’s already within school, it’s just inertia and “we’ve always done it this way”-ness that’s standing in the way. Granted, an effort was made to have side=by-side electronic and paper bulletins with the idea to phase the latter out. But, guess what? Yep, network issues made that impossible.


In a Guardian article entitled Is the paperless school in sight? compiled by Merlin John, a realistic diagnosis is made and a way forward considered:

  • In the case mentioned, a school was spending £20,000/year on photocopying, c.50% of which was memos to staff, etc.
  • Schools have long-running contracts with photocopier firms, but these can support scanning in documents to place on the school network.
  • Investing in laptops for students, wireless slates, etc. is expensive but, managed correctly, could bring cost savings in the long-term.

What I really hate about paper is that, although you can photocopy, to reproduce something in a way that can be manipulated you have to enter the data. Say someone’s produced an spreadsheet and printed it out for me. I might want to crunch the numbers in a different way. However, the original document is not accessible to me right now in anything other than paper format. You might say there’s OCR software, but get real.  Teachers are some of the busiest people on the planet! 😮

Image credits: NW Stack & Clipped, both @ Flickr

2 thoughts on “I don’t like paper

  1. Hey Doug,

    How do you read research? How do you handle a 30 page PDF document that contains valuable research that is applicable to your practice? Do you read it all on the screen?

    If so, how in the world can you handle that? It might be just me, but I need to hold it, flip back and forth, annotate, and there’s nothing like annotating in pencil.

    I do very little in the way of paper with my students, save for their note taking.

    Just curious,


  2. Thanks for your response, Chris. Obviously there's some occasions when I use paper, I just try to minimise them! I record my Ed.D. research, etc. online so it's of great benefit to have everything in digital format. At least when it's like that I've got the option… :-)

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