It is time for all schools to have machines that are reliable and up to the task of making hundreds of copies every day. Really. No matter what other technology they talk about for classrooms and schools, it is still a great day when the damned copier works. If they can put a rover on Mars,…
I know from years of experience how frustrating a malfunctioning or broken down copier can be at a school. It is singularly disruptive to the educational process.
Picture this: I am a science teacher: middle school–five classes a day–for a total of 148 students. I plan a science lesson that is standards-based and comes directly from the state-recommeneded and district-adopted science kit curriculum program for which I have receieved over thirty hours of training–not to mention that I have taught this kit and this very lesson for the past six years. It is a terrific lesson and critical to the flow of the unit and the students’ understanding of the BIG IDEAS. Let’s consider this as the linchpin lesson for this part of the unit.
However, when I go to copier the afternoon before the lesson is scheduled, I discover that the copier is down. Arrrgh!
DOWN. Broken. Dead as a doornail. So far gone, that not even the remarkable Vanessa, school secretary extrordinaire, can bring it back to life. It needs professional resuscitation, and that is gonna take a day or two.
Please take into consideration that this is a lesson that REQUIRES a handout, or a worksheet, or a form for data collection, or extensive data for each student or for each group. Please understand that I have but 47 minutes each period to work my instructional magic, so there is no time for students to “copy” the information from the board by hand–not to mention that this would be an incredible waste of time and should be banned from modern schooling.
And, to top it off, there are three colleagues lined up right now behind me at 4:30 p.m., and about twenty to thirty more who will discover the copier’s unfortunate and untimely demise when they arrive at school the next morning–some getting there as early as 6:30 a.m. just so they can complete preparation for the day, which of course, includes copying.
So, I ask again: Why can’t we have machines in every one of our schools that are capable of handling the important and time-critical copies that teachers of many subjects need to reproduce day after day? A common office copier is not up to the job. This is heavy-duty production going on here, even in a relatively small school. And, all of our programs rely on what we call black-line masters from which the hundreds of copies are made. Gone are the days of workbooks. One of my science lessons may require three pages for every child. With 150 kiddoes, that equals 450 copies for a lesson that stretches over two days of class time.
I started teaching in 1972 when a hand-cranked ditto machine was the new great thing. At least teachers no longer had to produce their own “masters” for the machine from some gel substance–a process about which more veteran teachers used to regale us. By then there were commercially produced “masters” and special paper that could be used for one to imprint their own images and letters. Eventually, we got a machine that used heat to create a master from any black and white page. The old ditto machine was replaced by an electric machine that started to life with the push of a button. Things were really humming then.
A little over a decade ago, I had to laugh when a person at DuPont suggested that she fax over a copy of something to me at my school. Most schools did not have fax machines at that time; businesses had had them for years. It often takes public schools a while to catch up on technological advances. But, copying is nothing new. It just needs to be brought out of the Dark Ages and into the 21st century reality of schools and teaching and production capacity. It would be money well-spent. Just ask any teacher.
[Wishing the best to all of my education friends and colleagues who begin a new school year tomorrow morning. Have a great year! I think of you every day. Your success and satisfaction mean the world to me.]