Pencils are for writing. Markers are for coloring. Scissors are for cutting. Rulers are for measuring. Depending on what we are doing these are common reminders in my classroom. These materials, except for the scissors, have multiple purposes in my classroom: sketching, outlining, straight lines, etc. But they also all have one thing in common. The potential to become a weapon.
Let's stop and think about that. You can stab someone with a pencil. Throw a marker at someone's head. Stab or cut someone with scissors. Whack someone with a ruler. All pretty painful. But yet we still give children these necessary supplies. We even show them how to use and be safe with these materials. Just Friday I showed my students how to walk with scissors to keep themselves and their classmates safe.
When I introduce, and consequently use, these materials I do so with the belief that my students are going to do so safely. Can I control when a child makes a poor decision and stabs a classmate with a pencil? Hardly. But I can create a shared expectation for our classroom, and then provide a consequence when that expectation is not met.
And yet, on the first day of school when a child stabs another with a pencil during art, pencils are not banned. Nor are they banned a week later when one is flung at someone's head. Nor a month later when a child pokes someone in the eye with a pencil. Or three months later when a child writes something mean to another child. Why?
Yet, we block Facebook. Ban YouTube. Disallow cell phones.
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