wondering if we'll ever go all-out on pencils

"Hey Techno-Tommy, I need you to fix this paper.  It seems I can't erase it for some reason."

"It's covered in scribbles.  Have you considered updating your paper and using a new page."  

"Just make it work," he tells me.  

The same morning, as I'm setting up for lesson plans, another teacher walks in.  "My notebook is broken."  

"What do you mean, broken?"  

"The rings won't work anymore," she explains.  "I have no idea what happened." This is code word for, "I dropped this and don't want to buy a new binder."  

The same day, I have a teacher complain to me about her notebook.  "I was running out of room on my notebook and then I got sick of having a cluttered desktop.  You know, papers everywhere and all, so I tossed it in the trash can. I have a lot more space now, but I can't seem to find my lesson plan folder." 

"You can't get it out of the trash can," I explain.

"But I've done that before."

"Yes, but if the trash is emptied, I can't go search through the landfill to find your lesson plan folder."

Paper and binders are flimsier than slates and they require a little more care.  I'd love to say that teachers always do an amazing job being stewards of materials, but I've found that they can be worse than the kids.  It has me thinking that perhaps we won't see full pencil integration (a term that still jars me) until pencils become either a durable or consumable good.  For the time being, they are still too expensive to fix and too easy to break.  


  1. I prefer durable to consumable, but at the frequency pencils need resharpening works against us. we always seem to reach the point where the pencil we are using is no longer the sharpest tool in the box and we are forced to switch to a new one. Pencils look good when they are new but lets face it, when we itch for pencils at the cutting edge, we will shave years off their lifespan.

  2. I'm delighted to report that we've had one pencil per teacher for a while. Although a few got broken along the way, all the teachers' pencils are due to be replaced with new, shiny ones. The replacements will be better in many ways (write faster, allow you to draw in different ways etc), but unfortunately they won't fit into the holders we bought for each classroom. The new pencils aren't designed to be used like this, so the holders will have to go. I forsee tears ...

  3. So true. Here in Maine where pencils are 1-to-1, us Mainers find them to be too flimsy for our rugged lifestyles. My own Pear is cracked in several places. Yes I am the adult but I also know that these machines were designed for cubicles not living classrooms. Good post. I want durable goods. I take my classes in the field.