A new law coming into force later this month will require students to check in their pencils and crayons at the office and collect them after school. Any children caught with pencils or crayons in their possession will have then confiscated and parents will be informed.
"We've had enough," said one teacher, "kids are writing notes to each other in class. It's distracting for us all. Besides that, they spend too much time sharpening them when they could be working."
There have been many reports of children using their pencils to "poke" each other and there have even been arguments about who owns which pencil.
"They'll have someone's eye out one day. It's only a matter of time before something serious happens," commented a parent who favours the all out ban. "Better to ban them all rather than risk an accident - they can be really sharp."
In some cases pencils have been used by pupils to record their ideas and learning, but they've also created problems with their inappropriate use in class. The introduction of new "coloured" pencils means that children are being tempted to create ever more creative work and the notes passed around now include garish illustrations.
One parent explained his opinion. "Chalk and slate was good enough for us, black and white and easy to read, not a confusing multicoloured mess. You couldn't pass notes around without the teacher noticing and the chalk couldn't be sharpened into a dangerous point. The greatest danger was that you'd drop it on your foot. I'd like chalk to remain the teachers' main tool (along with talk). Let's keep it at the centre of learning."
A few teachers are not convinced that the ban is the best policy. They worry about the effect it might have on student engagement and motivation.
"As soon as they get out of school kids are writing, drawing and passing notes around. I think by banning the pencil and crayon we risk alienating students and making their time at school seem irrelevant to their lives."
"Used in the correct way they are powerful learning tools, students (and teachers) need to be trained in their proper classroom use."
"It seems ridiculous to exclude something that is so readily available outside school and widely integrated into all aspects of our modern society. They are exposed to these modern implements from an early age and most children use them on a daily basis. To take them away is erasing educational opportunities."
No one can argue with the fact that a sharpened pencil can cause injury and that something must be done. It's too soon to determine the outcome of the ban. We'll just have to wait and see.
P.S. There is a rumour that something called a "ballpoint pen" is beginning to gain popularity among teens. How will schools cope with this new permanent menace? At least pencils can be erased with the right equipment.
image by orangeacid at Flickr
originally posted at What Now? What Next? So What?