Laptops? Give me a typewriter any time

24th March 2006 at 00:00
Call me old-fashioned. Call me a Luddite. Call me what you like, but I'd still trade in the laptop I've been given for the old Remington typewriter I learned to type on in 1980.

In those days, I could change my own typewriter ribbon, thank you very much, and didn't need to call the IT man if I hit trouble. He wouldn't know what to do with a Remington anyway, because there's no button where you can "just turn it off and turn it on again, love, and that should sort things out". You'll say to me, "But what about when you made a mistake? What about all that Tipp-Ex and all those carbon copies?" And I'll say to you, "You'd bloody well learn not to make the mistakes." That would be one of the benefits, see. You'd learn to type carefully. You'd live at a calmer pace.

You wouldn't leap on to your Remington three minutes before a lesson hoping to bash out a 14-page handout on the Russian Revolution. You couldn't write emotional, frustrated emails to senior staff that you'd live to regret.

You'd never again shoot off an email to a parent before you'd checked whether it really was Billy who drew the genitals on your planner.

Also, in the old days, no one wanted to steal my Remington and sell it at Camden market. No one could lift it, for a start. This also meant I couldn't take it home, so I did all my work at school and read books, watched television and painted my toenails at home. Don't tell me that doesn't sound good. And I didn't need one of those "I'm not really a laptop bag, honest" mugger-attracting rucksacks like the one I've been given, so I was safe on the streets, too.

Those of you in schools where you don't get a laptop should take it from me: they're not the best thing since sliced bread. Sliced bread, at least, can be operated by the average, well-educated teacher. Sliced bread doesn't leap off your plate and desert you just when you're really desperate; it can be relied on to be as it was when you last used it. Sliced bread doesn't need someone in a room four blocks away to maintain it; someone who seems to work two days a week and goes on training courses the rest of the time. It doesn't have to be networked to every other loaf in the area in order to function.

Perhaps you're not convinced, so let me put it this way. When did you last say the f-word to a cheese sandwich?

Pauline Rose Pauline Rose teaches English in west London. She writes under a pseudonym

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