Saturday, January 22, 2011

on staplers

This, my friends, is a stapler.

For those of you unfamiliar with this concept, it might be best to start with a basic definition.

Stapler (noun): A tool used to fasten sheets of paper together by poking a piece of metal through the paper and bending it so it stays secure.

Staplers can be purchased at any office supply store, and even at non-specialty stores such as Walgreens, Wal-Mart, or Target. They can be found in most offices, schools, and libraries. Elementary, middle, and high school students use them, and so do the CEO's of most major corporations. Staplers come in a range of cost and sizes, from the $2 backpack version, to the $60 model designed for heavy library use.

There seems to be a gap in stapler usage, at least from my observations. From the time a student enters college to the day they graduate, the stapler becomes an anomaly, almost an embarrassment to own or use. Assignments are paper clipped, or worse -- dogeared, with the vain hope that merely bending the top corner of the page will somehow hold one hundred sheets of paper together.


When a stapler is in the library, positioned close enough to the printer to allow for stapling in under three-and-a-half seconds, why do students turn in their papers unstapled?

Do they really think that a paper clip will hold their assignment together when it is placed in a box with fifty other papers also written in 12-point Times New Roman, with one-inch margins?

Are they naive enough to believe that their last name in the upper right-hand corner will really enable the teaching assistant to sort them properly? That the five other John Does in the class dogeared their pages in a slightly different place?

Unfortunately, some things in this life do not have easy answers. There are some questions we will ponder, never knowing the whys and the wherefores... never reaching that elusive solution.

This, however, is not one of those questions.

Buy a stapler.

With love from an absolute doll,

Erin Joy


  1. Erin Joy, I feel your pain. I just made this blog post required reading for my worldview class before they turn in their next papers.

  2. This post made me smile...

    Ah, the woes of the TA are many and misunderstood, are they not?

  3. You'll be glad to know that you made my fellow tutor and boss laugh the other day when I showed them this.

    Do your students read your blog? If not they should, just so they realize the importance of this most useful tool. :-)

  4. I do have to put in a good word for my students. This post was inspired by previous experiences, and a conversation with my brother, who is also a TA. This semester's class hasn't had any assignments yet requiring staples, so we shall see... :)

  5. Just wanted to report that my surgeon is a HUGE staple user! No worries about my incision falling open... 40-50 stitches will be coming out this week!

    Love reading your blog! ;-)