1. Too easy to lose
How many wasted hours do learners and teachers spend getting everyone a pen or pencil? They’re thin, narrow and roll unaided, designed therefore, to be lost through any small hole and from any surface. The average person must lose dozens, if not hundreds, in a lifetime.
2. Dangerous weapons
Nothing is more dangerous in classrooms than pens and pencils. They’re used to poke, prick, draw on and even stab others. Empty plastic Bic tubes are also superb pea-shooters. They are, in effect, dangerous weapons.
Pens leak, clothes stain, pencil shavings get everywhere. In short, these implements are a cleaning nightmare. A leaked pen in a pocket or bag can cause havoc, staining clothes, flesh and anything else that comes into contact.
Encourages bullying through notes and a notes culture around going to the toilet (actually walking the corridors or a sly cig), explaining why you were off that day (forged note from parent) etc.
How many learners doodle the hours away, rather than learning. They'll doodle on paper, books, plaster casts and any available surface, even their own hands and arms.
6. Pen tattoos
A bit extreme but it happens. A compass an ink pen's all you need to get your first boyfriend or girlfriend's name on your arm or those stupid words LOVE and HATE on your knuckles.
7. Limits editing
To NOT allow word processing on writing tasks is to not allow reediting, redrafting, reordering and self-correction, the essence of good writing skills. It actually encourages the regurgitation of pre-prepared, memorised answers.
8. Paper mountains
Keeps schools stuck in a world of paper, which can’t be emailed or easily stored. How many pieces of paper with writing are simply lost, deliberately or otherwise by children at school?
9. Cost of photocopying
Paper, pencils and pens cost money, but that is nothing compared to the cost of printing and photocopying, in terms of photocopying machines, printers and print cartridges.
10. Not green
Paper production, for writing assignments, destroys trees, uses nasty chemicals and if it doesn't end up as landfill. entails difficult and costly recycling.
11. Encourages academic curriculum
Pen and pencil assessment skews assessment towards writing and away from performance. This has led to an overwhelmingly academic curriculum, at the expense of practical and vocational skills.
12. Paper homework
It encourages primitive, photocopied A4 sheets for homework and mechanical 'fill-in-the-blank' assignments, with the additional problem that homework has to be physically marked by overworked teachers. Automated, online homework and assessment is surely superior.
13. Red pen assessment
It encourages teachers to use ‘red pen’ marking, highlighting failure, rather than the generosity of formative feedback. Children learn from failure which is why all feedback should be constructive.
14. Skews assessment
My kids look at pens and pencils as if they’re Egyptian artefacts. The fact is, that pens and pencils, if used in assessments, actually hinder or skew the proper assessment of attainment. Many of these kids write, incessantly on keyboards, not using pen and pencil.
15. Real world deficit
Lastly, when they enter the world of work, if they write, it will be largely on a keyboard. Surely touch typing is a skill worth learning.
This was inspired by Katie Stansberry's original idea