will we fall behind?

Mr. Brown pulls me aside to share his thoughts on the new proposal, "Could I see you, Tom? I want to talk about your one pencil for every student ratio."

"Pretty exciting, huh?" I say, stroking the wax on my handlebar mustache.

"Well, that's the issue. I just don't see it as being the best option for our students. After all, this is about the kids. My concerns aren't in any way related to my comfort level. Trust me," he adds.

"What do you mean?"

"It's academic. I just don't think we need to spend class time teaching pencil skills."

"Neither do I. That's why we'll embed the paper and pencil into the curriculum."

"Yes, but they've been using slates and chalk. They'll be ages behind."

"Okay, but they'll catch up quickly."

"Perhaps, but the high-stakes exams are taken with a slate and chalk. How will they ever reach William McKinley's Caravan to the Top using paper and pencil?"

"But paper and pencil is what they'll use in life."

"Yes, but the United Kingdom is expanding across the world and we cannot compete in an imperialist global economy if our students lag behind because we are focusing our time on paper and pencils."


  1. Anonymous8:34:00 AM

    I love the way you brought out the fear of NCLB in this post. That's one of the biggest barriers to tech integration.

  2. Anonymous1:17:00 PM

    This is great!

    I have been teaching so long, I remember when my students had to wait until Tuesday and Thursday afternoons when we had our scheduled periods in the Pencil Room. It was difficult to effectively support their writing process in those days, let me tell you, not to mention drawing.

    Things have come a long way since then. ;-)

  3. If students use their pencils to write nasty words or to draw naughty pictures, who's going to explain that to parents? Will we just take the pencils away from those students for the rest of the school year?

  4. Anonymous2:38:00 PM

    Of course there is also the pencil sharpeners. Who is going to keep those things working?

  5. That's a huge concern. I'll be sharing the story of having the fix a pencil sharpener for one teacher FIVE TIMES in the same class period. It was a simple cover that kept falling off. He just kept saying "I'm not a pencil geek. I'm sorry, you'll have to fix it for me."

  6. Brilliant. All the drama and excitement of the original talkies.

  7. LMAO Tom Johnson. I am the resident pencil geek in our school. You have to be patient with people who are still uncomfortable with their new pencils. Some would rather cling to the worn nub of an old pencil rather than switch over to a new one that feels different to the hand. It's also important to keep your humour and humility. I've been known to sharpen the eraser from time to time myself. Simple things can trip us up.

  8. Anonymous12:54:00 PM

    Remember, not every child will be able to afford a pencil. And imagine the child that can afford their own pencil sharpener!

  9. Anonymous10:31:00 AM

    By time they learn the pencil, everyone will be using a pen.

  10. Anonymous12:34:00 PM

    AND THEN....we'll have to start all over again..

  11. Well using pencils are good but when they get into college their required to use pen so what is it really?