Last night I took the plunge and opened up one of the three filing boxes of notes/notebooks/handouts from grad school and my mathematics courses. I’ve been carting these things around since finishing school in the summer of 2011. I was able to toss out nearly all of it, except for a 1.5″ stack of documents I’d like to look over in the future, a few notes/documents that I’m going to use now in my classes, and my manila envelope of photos I’ve taken over the years.
While it had been weighing on my mind as a minor irritation for the last couple of years, I’m glad that I waited until my second year of teaching before thinning the herd, as it’s given me a bit more perspective on whether or not:
A.) I already know the information and can toss it out
B.) Experience has taught me it’s valid in the first place
C.) Ooooh! I forgot about that–I’ll keep it
I sat there and mentally tallied up the cost of my grad degree, and realized that this was an expensive pile of papers. Yet it was a great feeling to toss away most of it, knowing that I had resources in my school, in some other text books I was keeping, in my fellow teachers, and in my own experience to replace it. I feel lighter already, and the knowledge that the next time we move I won’t have to lift that particular box of chaos into the moving van is a delightful feeling. Also, it was nice to toss out some reminders of the stressful, sometimes frustrating experience of a program which was heavy on philosophy, and light on practice/practical information.
Next step: the calculus notebooks. Those are going in the trash. I’ve got textbooks that are far superior to any kind of garbled note-taking I managed to sketch out while an indifferent doctoral student hastily glossed over key theorems.
“No, tell me how you really feel about grad school.”