This article is part of a satirical issue of Educational Horizons.
School officials struggling with how to manage the new “papering” movement that’s sweeping classrooms weight the pros and cons of banning pencils. What could this mean for the future of education?
A frightening trend has hit the campus of Plainview Middle School. School officials report that students have been engaging in a dangerous and disruptive activity. This disturbance, called “papering,” occurs when students write short messages on paper tablets and pass the texts to other students during class.What began as a simple disruption has turned into a major classroom management problem. Teachers claim that these messages have become so distracting that students are no longer engaging in class and thus are missing out on valuable instructional time.
“This simply wasn’t an issue a decade ago when students used slates,” Peter Johnson, a 7th-grade math teacher, explains. “I blame the device. A paper tablet is so much more distracting than an individual slate. They’re so small, so mobile, and so much harder to control.” Johnson points out that when he was a child, he used a slate just like the one pictured in this article. His classmates used slates. They all turned out to be great mathematicians without needing fresh tablets of paper.
Cassandra Chamberlain, a 6th-grade science teacher, echoes this concern.
“I’m not sure how I’m supposed to compete with this new form of communication,” she said. “The papers are being passed so quickly that I can’t even monitor what’s being written.”
The concerns aren’t limited to distractions. Teachers throughout the school point out that pencils and paper are simply too unreliable to use in the classroom on a regular basis. One veteran English teacher explains, “I’m teaching a lesson on author’s purpose and all these hands are up! Half the class has broken their pencils. The other half are experiencing dull tips. Ugh. It’s unbearable. Am I supposed to stop what I’m doing to sharpen them? Am I supposed to trust students to sharpen the pencils on their own? They told us that pencils would make our lives easier.”
Other teachers have reported ripped and torn papers as kids struggle with rubber erasers.
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