Pen or Pencil

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Pen or pencil – which one did you use when you were at school?

If you are still a student, which one do you use now?

As a math teacher, I often hear that it’s weird that my students use pens during my classes. I know that using pencils might be better during classes because you can erase your mistakes. You don’t have this chance when you write using a pen.

Some time ago I’ve started wondering why pens are better than pencils, and why my students should use pens. I found the answer. It’s connecting with erasing your mistakes.

When you use a pencil, and you make a mistake, you can erase it.

When you use a pen, and you make a mistake, you cannot erase it.

I don’t want to teach my students that they should erase their mistakes one second after making them. Their lives won’t be perfect. They will make plenty of mistakes. If I teach them that erasing mistakes from their lives is easy, in my opinion they might have some emotional problems in the future.

Using a pen means that you will see your mistakes because you can’t remove them from your life. Students learn that it is OK to make mistakes and see them for some time. When/If they try to solve the next problem, they can learn from their past mistakes.

It’s not important to me that my students’ notebooks are not perfectly clean. It’s not important when my students solve problems on the whiteboard and they make mistakes. Very often with other students we try to find a way to help remember correct rules which they should have used. I’m always happy when I see many mistakes in my students’ notebooks. Very often among their old mistakes they try to find some ‘tips’ or/and ‘answers’ to problems they solve. If they used pencils and erased their mistakes, they wouldn’t be able to use their previous notes to solve some problems.

I try to teach my student to solve all problems without mistakes. Often it’s impossible. But, this is the learning process. I’m also happy to see more and more students who can solve more and more problem without any mistakes.

So, in my opinion erasing mistakes is not always helpful.

Of course I don’t yell at some students who use pencils and erase their errors, but I try to explain to them why they should leave their wrong calculations in their notebooks.

No solution is perfect.

What about you?

What do you think about using pens or/and pencils?

Do you try to erase each of your mistakes when you make notes, when you write essays or solve some problems?

Let’s discuss …

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