Tuesday, July 14, 2009

From the Archives: Why Do I Hate Paper?

Originally posted Feb 6, 2009

I was asked recently why I am so against using paper in the classroom.

I'm not.

I'm into letting kids make paper airplanes. And construct buildings and mazes out of paper. And shoot hoops at the trashcan with paperballs. I'm into letting them draw on big pieces of paper with charcoal and having them get their hands dirty. I'm into dog-eared paperbacks creeping out of their pockets and I'm into letters and personal notes and thank-yous and miss-yous and get-wells scribbled on scrap-paper.

It's not paper I'm against.

I'm against the static idea of knowledge that paper so often represents.

That's not where the future is.

I post online all of the sorts of assignments that I used to have kids turn in on paper, not because I want them to use technology or because I don't want them to use paper. I do this because online assignments are naturally dynamic. I do this because that's what the kids understand. They are already living the post-paper knowledge life. They understand that in the future, (and the future is now), knowledge is dynamic and collaborative.

Ideas brought forth in a dynamic environment should not be 'written on paper', in the symbolic sense. In other words, they should not be thought of as singular and final products to be graded and filed away; rather, ideas are always in flux and current to debate and change and this is a good thing, an innovative thing, and cooperative interactive online docs with no fixed 'due date' are more natural to use in this environment of thinking -- that is they are more an extension of this type of thinking -- than a piece of paper kept in one's folder smooshed in the grimy depths of one's bookbag could ever be.

That leaves time to do good stuff with paper. Like making airplanes. And footballs. All kinds of creative things. And everything else.


  1. I've loved the way you put it.Yet I must admit I still like writing in paper (lol).

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