The View from Here – 7

Teachers’ Room – the photocopier

Here it is, the chuntering heart of the school, the photocopier.


The photocopier is a hard-working individual at this time of year.

I once taught at a summer school for children at a villa deep in the Italian countryside. There was no photocopier. Every evening the teachers sat up late and miserable into the night, hand-producing all our teaching materials (word squares were a great, and time-consuming, favourite).

From time to time the photocopier breaks down, and very mild panic spreads through the basement rooms. The panic is very mild, because there is a back-up copier in the office upstairs; but it is panic, because just for a moment we are forced to imagine what we would do without our readymades, our sheafs and bundles of material.

Of course we’d be fine. We’re professionals. So are the students. The lesson, as every teacher knows, is not on the page but in the classroom. Or the students’ heads. Or anyway most certainly not in the photocopier.

But there is something comforting nevertheless about getting those first copies made in the morning, and knowing everything is going to be all right. That we will have something to put under the noses of our students, something for them to contemplate, something to chew over; that we will not be confined to whatever weeds and tares we might have tumbleweeding around our own heads on any given morning, but will have some substantial matter to consider.

After all, this may be a digital world and a knowledge economy, but to learn anything properly still requires putting in the monochrome, analogue yards.


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