There is a war going on.

It’s a war being waged on two fronts and has been the longest running war in my recent memory.

One that threatens to totally annihilate the other side and drive them to extinction.

What war might you ask?

The war between the increase of technology and those who are “tech savvy” and the “old schoolers” who tolerate technology and its uses but cling to their old ways with a death grip.

The “tech savvy” says that technology is an essential benefit that will only improve our lives and remove us from the days of being slaves to the mountains of paper record keeping.

The “old schoolers” say that there MUST ALWAYS be a paper record of everything because computers and technology breaks down and the only way paper can be eliminated from their lives is to pry it from their cold dead hands.

Who is winning this war? No one.

We are at a true deadlocked stalemate.

While the advent of computers and technology makes some of our more mundane tasks in education more “efficient” and “paperless,” the “old schoolers” find new ways of re-introducing their time-tested ways of record keeping that stem from the times when monks sat in caves scribing on stone tablets.

Take for example:

1. Computerized attendance recordkeeping. How many times do we as administrators tell the teachers “keep your attendance on the system” only to have them keep paper records of their daily attendance instead and claim when asked: “I can’t access the system and get into my account?”

2. Inter-school and Intra-school communications. Schools and districts send communications through email. What do the “old schoolers” do? Print them instead of reading them on the computer and never discard them. They just keep them around, “in case” they need a copy. Needless to say they never need a copy and at the end of the school year when they are cleaning out their classroom, they have a small mountain of paper to move.

3. This is my favorite: Special Education Individualized Education Plans. Have you seen a typical Special Education office within a school? It’s a fire hazard waiting to happen. Boxes or cabinets stuffed with envelopes, folders, and binders of records for each student with special needs. Some of those require entire drawers or shelves for a single student. Districts have databases of these documents yet we STILL keep entire ROOMS of paper backups of files. We enter this information into the system then PRINT the paperwork. I actually worked at one school where in a routine check, the Fire Marshall told us to move the office to another location in the school because the current location was a danger to spontaneously combust and burn the school down.

Simply put, I actually think that the more we increase technology, especially in the 21st Century which is supposed to DECREASE the amount of paper we use, the more we INCREASE the amount of paper we use. It’s almost obscene.

Isn’t this the decade where years ago predictions were abound that we would be a paperless society? That by the year 2000 hands and wrists would be singing for joy because writing would be a thing of the past? Where students would be dancing in the streets because they would no longer have bad backs from lugging 80 pounds of books to-and-fro each and every day?

Environmental groups sing in chorus lines protesting the amount of paper we consume on a daily basis.

Are there any trees left on the planet? I wonder because at a few schools I have worked, the budget amount for copy paper (and other forms of paper; construction paper, bulletin board paper, etc.) resembled the national debt.

So what do we do? How do we solve this war and end it? We: being the individuals on the front lines of this battle.

Who will win?

Educators and the education field are certainly not exclusive to this war. The fields of medicine and law (ever been in a law firm or in a district court office), and a few others can also claim sides to this battle.

Each has soldiers who are on the side of innovation and on the side of resistance.

One side embracing new technologies and shunning the use of paper, the other side fiercely entrenched in bunkers loaded with paper piling up to protect their ways.

These same “old school” soldiers complain and fight back against the “tech savvy” with the argument: “handwriting is going to the dogs, since the kids don’t write anymore!”

The “tech savvy” fire back, saying: “our students need to embrace and continue to become more technologically literate to compete in a global society!”

See how they, the “tech savvy” fight with the language of Education and send their lobs of artillery through computer networks toward the enemy front lines.

What do the “old schoolers” do? How do they fight back?

They print the emails, arrange them in chronological order, punch holes in them, collate them, categorize them, color code them (with more paper mind you), and put them into binders, and send them back to the “tech savvy” weighing them down with loads of “backups” hoping to defeat them.


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