Not Wiping the Board

I wonder how much time I spend these days not wiping the board? Latterly, everything is projected in a sort of modern-day clanking smoking Heath-Robinson technical adventure, and I haven’t written on the board in months. So, no writing, no wiping off. Time saved.

But how much time? I was watching a snippet of the movie Up in the Air with my students earlier in the week, in which George Clooney has perfected his packing and airport drills. When his new partner arrives with luggage to check, he asks her how much time she thinks it takes to check a bag. She says, five or ten minutes. No, he replies, it takes thirty-five minutes, and if you fly 270 days in the year as he does, that adds up to roughly 160 hours, or seven days, give or take. Seven days spent checking luggage.


Checking luggage… Philippe de Champaigne, Vanitas (1671)

The average American, I read on the Internet, spends six months of his or her life waiting at traffic lights. Here in Britain we spend 40,000 minutes, or twenty-seven days of our life, waiting for trains or buses (which doesn’t seem that bad, in fact) and six months standing in queues. I have no idea how long my students spend rummaging through the piles of dog-eared papers we keep throwing at them, but it’s a lot.

So, I am striking off in the opposite direction. Not wiping the board saves me, I estimate, 45 seconds per lesson, which at a couple of lessons a day works out as, very roughly, six hours a year.

That’s six fat hours per annum I can spend doing other things. Logging into and out of computers, perhaps. Or more photocopying. There’s never enough time for all the photocopying I want to do.