It recently occurred to me that I might be a hoarder. I’m one more visit to Ryman’s away from having a house filled from floor to ceiling with pens and notepads that I don’t have time to use because I’m busy unwrapping my new pens and notepads. For someone who likes to claim that I am not a materialistic person, I do seem to collect a lot of things. Pens and pencil cases, hoodies (mostly Marvel themed), dvds and books, cushions, candles… and teaching resources.
My classroom has 5 filing cabinets. Each cabinet is filled with resources from my 10 years of teaching and training but most of these resources are now irrelevant. They link to old specs, old curriculums, and some of them are just bad ideas from my first few years of teaching that I’ll never use again. So why keep them? I can’t imagine the day will ever come when I think ‘Ooh, remember that OHP acetate of Education for Leisure – the poem you’re no longer allowed to teach to children for fear they’ll go on a killing spree? That’ll be handy for my lesson today! Now where’s the overhead projector got to?”
I hoard on Twitter too. I ‘like’ many tweets and add links to Pocket, because for some reason I think I’ll be more likely to read those articles when they’re hidden in another app. I pay for a Dropbox subscription because I want access to everything the shared English drives have to offer. I subscribe to the email updates of many brilliant teaching blogs but rarely find the time to read them. I have notepads (there they are again!) filled with notes and ideas from teachmeets and seminars. I have annotated Reading Reconsidered and various other edu books with ideas and references that, at the time, I fully intended to go back and use someday. Of the vast materials and notes I have amassed over the years, I think I’ve used about 1% of them.
That’s not to say that any of this idea and resource hoarding is useless. The best ideas must have stuck in my head without the need for further reference because I know my teaching practice has improved over the years, and I always like to try new things. The question is why can I not be more selective about what I keep and what I dump? Why do I save EVERY SINGLE Dropbox link I come across on my timeline, regardless of whether I not I teach that particular text or even year group? This year I have attempted to justify my hoarding by convincing myself that, as HoD, I should be collecting useful resources to pass on to my team. A nice thought, but is that really my responsibility? Do I have time for that? So far the answer has been no. And the year is unlikely to get any less busy from this point on.
The fact is, I like hoarding all of this stuff because I have major FOMO. That’s Fear Of Missing Out for those of you fortunate enough to have never come across this phrase. I worry about not having that resource to hand should I ever need it. What if Education for Leisure comes back onto the curriculum? What if coursework comes back and all those packs I made 5 years ago become useful again? What if one day I do decide I need to read X’s blog on the progressive Vs traditional argument?
As long as I have the space, virtual or physical, I suppose I shall continue to hoard. But if the Channel 5 documentary makers ever come knocking on my door could someone please stage an intervention? Thanks.