Let me say, in no uncertain terms, that I hate pencils in my classroom. They constantly break or dull and need resharpening, the sharpener is endlessly jammed, the shavings make a huge mess, the lead is difficult to read, the erasers never work/run out too quickly, the mechanical ones are always out of lead... the list goes on and on.
The reasoning for this recommendation are as follows:
- You cannot erase it. This is helpful for teaching students that writing is a process rather than something that should be done perfectly the first time through. Students should learn from their mistakes rather than hiding them with erasers.
- Pencils are neurologically, tactilely, and emotionally disturbing to children. He says this is because of how pencils are constantly changing (dulling), causing a different feeling in the students' hands. And what students want, more than anything else in the world, is consistency. This, he says, is why they have a compelling need to sharpen their pencils every two minutes.
- Pencils contribute to Tired Hand Syndrome. He says this is especially true for those who are visually challenged because they push harder to make a darker line that's easier to see.
With such evidence to back up this recommendation, I think it's safe to say that my future classrooms will be lead-free zones except for special circumstances (testing, drawing, and coloring come to mind). Now, if only I can find an expert to tell my students why they shouldn't submit fringed notebook paper. :)