The overhead projector revolutionised the teaching world. It could turn the most mind-numbing lesson into an even more mind-numbing lesson through the power of electricity. Teachers could swap acetates and stories of bulbs fusing at the most inappropriate times, with students stunned into silence by the power of technology. One hour lessons were turned into 20 minutes of learning because the teacher couldn’t get the projector to work or put the acetates upside down.
Next came the photocopier, an educational innovation that has stood the test of time. Reams of paper used world-wide in industry and education. The beauty of this little baby was that it could produce photocopies of one page at a time of the ubiquitous text-book. Clear and multiple copies of page 73 of ‘teach yourself geometry/algebra’, poems could be handed out from Shakespeare’s sonnets, pictures of ox-bow lakes could be glued into exercise books. Or, indeed, if a text book was torn you could photocopy all the book. Lessons didn’t need to be prepared, you just took the text book to the photocopier, join the queue of the other 60 like-minded teachers and your day was done. Some schools even took on a technician to do the photocopying for the staff. At the end of the week, this pale and partially blinded human emerged from a small room carrying large piles of text-books for re-distribution to the staff, secure in the knowledge that they would all be back again the following week. If the copier broke down, hundreds of staff would gather like a lynch-mob at the technician’s door blaming him/her personally for ruining their lessons. Alternatively, the staff would have their own machine which always jammed with no-one accepting the blame.