Staplers and pen knives

I saw these slides in this presentation (which looks like it came from an Australian Dept. of Ed.), which I found via this post on the Kinect in Education blog (which I found through a Johnny Kissco tweet).

It all kind of speaks for itself, doesn’t it? Just the other day I was wondering if I’m doing a disservice to my students by not preparing them to take notes in a traditional outline format, but maybe that’s as absurd as lamenting their inability to make their own ink.

I ran into a similar dilemma the other day, on the fly. I’ll be collecting personal narrative essays from my seniors on Tuesday, and I was explaining to them how I’d like them to to turn in their final drafts. I said I’d prefer if they used Edmodo, but that they can bring a paper copy to class if they like. I was showing them the submission screen on the projector and had to decide if I wanted them to attach a Word document or simply paste the essay into the “reply” box.

In my first few years of teaching, I made a huge deal about formatting. I’m sure other teachers know why: essays typed in Comic Sans, printed in purple ink…things I never would have thought I’d have to say not to do when turning in a paper.

I still think it’s important to know how to present a physical, paper essay in way that looks professional. But it might not be for long. This particular essay is a personal narrative/college essay. It’s meant to force my students to get started on something they could use for their personal statement in the event they need to write one for their college applications. But all those college applications are done online, and I think they can just paste their essay into a text box on the screen, not so unlike that box on Edmodo. So when I thought about that, I couldn’t think of a good reason to require that they attach a Word document.

(Sidenote: I’m still a young person, but I used a typewriter to complete my college applications. That is just weird.)

A friend from college once told me, as he was stapling one of his essays to turn in, that he always remembers how adamant one of his high school teachers was about staples being vertical, in the very top right corner, not diagonal or (gasp) horizontal.

So I told them I’d make a big deal about formatting with a later essay. Because they still need to know how to turn in a paper essay, right? Wouldn’t it be a travesty if they had no idea how to use a stapler? Or how to print a document with proper margins? Or how to use a pen knife to sharpen a pencil?


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