Feb 11, 2008

On Copiers, Exams, and Jumping into Modernity

I am giving a midterm today in one of the world history classes that I teach, and I gave myself extra time to get copies printed and stapled. When I arrived at the copier, I made a decision that turned out to bode well for my future productivity: I read the copier manual to learn how to collate and staple my five-page test.

Now, those of you who work full-time in an office setting are probably well versed in the art of copier use, either through personal expertise or because you can delegate copying tasks to a subordinate. In my case, I know little beyond the basics of one-sided, one-page copying, and I have always stapled my own multi-page projects.

Heck, I have trouble just getting the machine to collate, so I usually end up with a bunch of piles from which I assemble syllabi and tests. Remember, too, that my stubborn pride prevents me at most times from asking for help. God forbid I should admit my incompetence at copying, so I suffer in silence, slinking off to staple my non-collated pages by hand.

After spending ten minutes reading the Sharp instruction manual, I felt prepared for the leap into modernity. After feeding the originals, like electronic magic the stapled exams appeared in the exit tray, ten smoking-hot sets per minute. In less than three minutes time, the machine produced what normally would have been a 20-25 minute manual sorting and stapling process.


The lessons learned from mastering such a skill go beyond the additional free time, though. It is when we continue to stubbornly refuse to change that we deny ourselves opportunities to grow, even in such a mundane task as copying multi-page documents. Perhaps this moment will serve as a reminder of the potentially obstructive and stunting power of my ego, which can act as a barrier to self-improvement.

1 comment:

Mad Jack said...

A five page exam? What happened to the old one out of three essay questions?

Of course, that would mean that the instructor would have to read and grade each exam... and that the students would have to actually be able to write a coherent paragraph or two. Perhaps your method is best for everyone.

My congratulations on your success with the copier! I've never had to contend with a copy machine - I learned early on to delegate such tasks to the clerical staff.