The shift from paper to paperless has been prevalent in the past few years. Increased environmental awareness has made online work the go-to for many teachers. Increasingly, as I’m sure everyone reading this has noticed, professors are assigning assignments and homework online. Almost everything is done through a screen.
I’m not saying that’s a bad thing, but there is still the scholastic appeal of paper that should not be forgotten and completely replaced.
Just look at yourself, yes you, the reader. It is much more likely that you are reading this article in the physical newspaper, than online. The physical paper attracts your attention as it lies waiting to be picked up and read.
Of course there are clear perks to having the newspaper available online, as well. People off campus are able to share and enjoy the stellar writing found in The Mirror this way. But it’s just not the same feeling.
Personally, I don’t think I’d ever read The Mirror if it were published online only. Paper is intimate. It allows the reader to interact with the words in a way that an iPad or computer screen never could. I could not see myself in philosophy class without the printed out readings where I can highlight, underline and annotate freely. How else would I be able to understand Plato without?
One of my largest grievances remains that teachers think we have unlimited printing money. They casually tell us to print assignments to hand in when they do not print out their own assignments. Of course the COVID era and the dark days of Zoom learning played a large factor in this. Teachers could not print out their own assignments and had to send everything out through links online. But with in-person learning back in session, it is high time to bring back printed worksheets and assignments into the classroom.
“Paper works best because I can write in the margins, and I find it easier to do my work that way,” sophomore student Elizabeth Viggiano says, and I agree. But don’t just take the word of two sophomores on this topic, scientific findings showed that recording thoughts on paper improves mental retention and academic performance more so than typing out those thoughts does.
The other appeal of printed paper is that you are able to reference them instead of having to flip through tabs. Which is a hassle, I have found.
There are always two sides to every medal, however and some students feel differently. For instance, sophomore student Annie Tomosovitch pointed out “keeping track of papers and worksheets is a pain,” which is a valid point.
I remember in high school, when my teachers printed everything out left and right; my binder was inundated with worksheets of all sorts. There was a regular housekeeping schedule I needed to keep to assure the important documents stay and all the busy work gets trashed.
Paper is timeless. It has the potential to stir revolutions, as was the case with the “Declaration of Independence” by Thomas Jefferson; or create religious upheaval, like the 95 Theses of Martin Luther. The written and printed word is as powerful as David’s stone against Goliath.
The publishing industry consistently shows that print outsells ebooks. Clearly the smell of a newly cracked open book has the same appeal now as it did 300 years ago. Therefore we should not phase paper out of our lives and in fact encourage its use in school and work.
Of course, one should be conscious of the environmental impact, and should always be conscientious of waste, but when it comes to choosing between online and paper, I go with paper every time.