#SOL16: Picking the Right Pile
The painters arrive in two weeks. By then, my office will be stripped down, almost bare. Book shelves will be unscrewed from the walls, books piled in a closet in a different room. A tall glass-fronted bookcase will be detached from the wall, emptied of still more books, and laid on its side for safekeeping. First, though, there’s the file cabinet, five drawers high. With the exception of the top one where official papers live, I’m not even sure of the last time I opened a drawer.
I have three piles: Recycle. Scan then recycle. Keep. Ideally, the biggest pile will be Recycle. You can guess how that’s going. In truth, it is the largest pile. It’s just taking a while to decide what belongs there. First I have to look through each folder. Sometimes I toss the whole thing right away. Sometimes I set aside materials I want to keep– I can scan those into PDFs and put them onto a hard drive, where they’ll be more easily searchable. Sometimes I find weird stuff, like the overhead projector acetates with notes & diagrams about teaching writing. Deciding what to do with those was easy– I don’t even know where to look for an overhead projector.
The current drawer is full of articles. Some are seminal pieces; I’ve already got them as PDFs. Others? I’m not even sure where I found them, or how long ago. But they’re good; teachers and teachers-to-be would benefit from them. Which pile do they go in?
I think what I’m wondering is when to throw ideas away, how to go about deciding. Personal items– photos, letters– we make our peace with the moments the pieces of paper represent, we add the paper to the Recycle pile. The writer Marie Kondo, creator of a method of decluttering, says the way to determine what to keep and what to discard is to ask if an item sparks joy in you. Joy = keep. No joy = toss. All the books that I’ll be moving out of the painter’s way are touchstones for me. And the articles I’m debating about?
I love that once I taught classes where the students would have benefitted from them. I love the ideas that the students would have made their own. But my own thinking has moved to a different place; were I to teach the courses again, my teaching would be different too.
Yesterday I would have added the articles to the Scan pile. But today is a new day.