A classic tongue-in-cheek MindShift post from last November is making the rounds on Twitter. For those who haven’t seen it yet, I’m happy to repost here, just in time for back-to-school.



By Katie Stansberry

According to a recent MSNBC article, 69% of high school currently ban cell phones. But you’d be hard-pressed to find a school anywhere that has enacted a blanket ban on pens and pencils. Here are 10 reasons to reconsider the widespread acceptance of these distracting and potentially dangerous implements.

  1. Pens and pencils are distracting. The tapping, clicking, flipping and rolling can drive just about any teacher around the bend. I remember a happy indoor recess spent throwing newly sharpened pencils at the classroom ceiling trying to make them stick.
  2. Writing implements are dangerous. I still have a small lump of lead imbedded in the soft, fleshy area between my thumb and pointer finger. It’s a souvenir from a mini-sword fight that occurred between my close friend and I in third grade. She won.
  3. Pens can be used to cheat. Now that I’m at the head of a classroom instead of behind a desk, I’ve seen some ingenious cheating techniques. One student managed to write an entire history of media studies on the bottom of their shoe. I’ve also found forearms covered with vocabulary words, ankles tattooed with definitions, and hands dyed with smeared blue ink.
  4. They are incredibly messy. Dusty pencil shavings litter the floor in many elementary classrooms and pens filled with liquid ink are just disasters waiting to happen. Have you ever tried to clean a child’s backpack after a pen broke at the bottom of the bag? No amount of scrubbing can get the dye completely out.
  5. Pens and pencils can be used to bully kids. Those notes that pass from hand to hand across the rows of desks are often far more sinister than they appear. Thanks to the ubiquitous use of writing implements in schools, kids have free reign to write and distribute messages that use offensive language and hateful speech. Recent high-profile cases of student bullying are just the latest examples of why we must crack down on these communication tools.
  6. Kids will just use them to play games. Hangman, Tic-Tac-Toe, word searches, crosswords, and now the latest craze: Sudoko. How can any student be expected to keep their mind on lessons when there are so many tempting distractions just a pen stroke away?
  7. Fancy pens and pencils will cause jealousy and other problems. I remember in fifth grade when the girl who sat across from me came to school with a brand new pack of orange, sparkly pens that wrote in neon ink. Her father had brought them back as a souvenir from a recent trip to Florida. They were the coolest and I wanted them, but they were too expensive for me to just go out and buy. Wouldn’t it be better to nip those kinds of issue in the bud by instituting a widespread ban on pens in schools.
  8. There are health concerns that can lead to bad habits. I think part of the reason I wore braces for six years stemmed from my lifelong habit of chewing pens and pencils. All that chomping in class had to affect my dental hygiene.
  9. They lead to sedentary behavior. Have you ever seen a child running with a sharpened pencil? Or, writing a note while playing kickball? Writing and exercise don’t mix. The obesity crises is reaching epic levels. Let’s get pens and pencils out of our kid’s pudgy hands so they can get moving.
  10. They can be used to embarrass teachers. Sure, no teacher wants to see their goofs show up on YouTube, but a skillfully done caricature can do as much or more damage than photos or video. At least cameras and video capture actual events, when students are given free reign to create images, text or stories about their teachers, there’s no limit to the damage they can do.

Let’s hope this blog post helps open people’s eyes to the danger of pens and pencils in schools. It’s high time someone spoke out in support of a ban on such hazardous tools.

  • Anonymous

    Well, I guess someone with air for brains would consider banning pens and pencils from schools. I remember when a lot of schools banned phonics. Hundreds of thousands of kids came out of high school could read or pass SAT test.

    I have sold over 10,000 phonics reading programs because of that at phonicsteacher.com

    Thankfully schools have learned for the most part Not to ban necessary tools. They may ban the typewriter but not the pens and pencils!

  • Strillia

    What would I do with out pencils in my Kindergarten class? how would I teach them how to hold a pencil with out one?  How would I teach them to form the letters of the alphabet with out a pencil in their hand. How would I teach them fine motor skills if they can’t draw and color with pencils and crayons?

    • Purplehaize

      Why would you need to? Literacy is overrated in my opinion…

  • Do I get bonus points for being the first commenter to get it? Wow.

  • Anonymous

    I love this and will share it with all my friends in the teaching profession.

  • Bon

    It is really frightening that teachers do not understand what a parody is or what it means to be tongue in cheek.  As a teacher I am concerned that my colleagues don’t understand those terms or did not read the beginning of the article.

    • Allen

      Dear Dear Bon, Maybe we should just laugh. At least there is a touch of humor YES but,…

  • MattG

    Aren’t parodies supposed to be funny?

    • Allen

      Voila!! I have had such a laugh!!!!

  • Jen

    Wait… people are not getting that this is a parody?

  • Purplehaize

    I’m glad someone has finally spoken up against these dangerous implements. Not only can they hurt you physically, some of the writing my students have handed in has damaged me psychologically to the point where I am forced to bury their work under all the other stuff I haven’t corrected this year. And don’t remind me about paper cuts, they can be lethal! Now that I have convinced the student body to email me their work, I can accidently delete terms worth of assignments. In fact, next term I’m considering NOT TEACHING THEM HOW TO READ OR WRITE. 

  • Anonymous

    I’ve often used my cellphone to write notes while standing. Try that with a pencil and post it!

    • Purplehaize

      Sam, Sam, rookie mistake. You can’t write standing with a pen, not a pencil. Pencils are easy to use…pens are for the more technically minded…
      You also don’t have to charge pencils…:D

      • Anonymous

        I only write with pens. Pencils are too temporary.

  • Abby Wilson

    I love this. Parody it may be but hopefully it will make at least one teacher realise how stupid it is to ban modern technology from their classroom. Bravo 🙂

    • Anonymous

      I can tell you now it’s not teachers that implement these bans. They come from admin…

  • That’s why Cameron should ban pans in Britain.

  • Anonymous

    Why are people jumping on teachers here? It’s not teachers that make these administrative decisions. It’s admin. Get it right, please.

    • Girlfromkansas

      I’m an admin who would love my teachers to allow the students to use cell phones in their classrooms and yet, I can’t get any of them to allow there use.

  • adelaidelad

    Reason #11. The pen is mightier than the sword…. and we know how dangerous swords are in schools!

    • Adetutu Wande-Kayode

      Hmnnnn, ….

  • Maureen Devlin

    Terrific.  I can’t wait to share this with my students.  I’m anticipating a great discussions about historic reaction to ideas, future thought and tongue-in-cheek.

    • Susanb

      Great to get students involved.  I wish I could sit in on the discussion.  In fact, I wish I’d had a teacher like you. You are so right about “historic reaction to ideas”.  

  • Anonymous

    Don’t forget that age old tactic of dropping a pen/throwing it across the room and then “going to fetch it” as a way of chatting to someone. Let’s put an end to all this needless disruption once and for all!

  • “Free reign”? “Sudoko”? I guess dictionaries have been banned as well.

  • You missed one.  Pencils can be very destructive to the classroom infrastructure.  My students used to toss them up so they would stick in the ceiling!

  • Christian

    Wow this is really stupid what are we suppose to write with by cutting our fingers and writing with the blood i think not 

  • Jasmyne Perry

    i GOT A PENCIL STUCK IN THE CILLING IN THIRD GRADE!!!! I was not trying to but then one of the guys told on me!! Tattal tell 😀

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