The Pencil Crisis: Quality Pencils in the Classroom

pencil crisisHow Low-Quality Pencils Impact Our Students’ Education

There is a crisis facing our classrooms, and it revolves around the seemingly simple pencil. Schools across the country, unaware of the negative effects a poorly made pencil can have on our students’ educations, are choosing to purchase low-quality pencils and place these pencils in the hands of our students.

“Is it just me or has anyone else noticed that the pencils you buy are terrible?” wrote one teacher in an online discussion forum. “They split down the length of the pencil, the lead falls out, the [ferrule] falls off, or they sharpen unevenly…”

“I can’t believe how much class time has been wasted with off-center, lead-falling out, cruddy pencils,” added another.

“I wish parents would understand that cheap pencils actually cost more in the long run than more expensive, better quality pencils that last longer,” added a third.

By the time the thread came to a close, over forty teachers had chimed in to voice their concerns over the quality of the pencils in their classrooms. But why such concern over the quality of the writing instruments in our students’ hands?

In a previous interview here on our blog, teacher William Maguire explained why he provides his students with high-quality pencils.

“My goal was to not only eliminate pencils as a distraction, but also make them a positive focus in the classroom… My students are now ready to work when I need them to be. They have a greatly heightened sense of respect for their own property as well as other’s. Writing is now approached with greater willingness because it involves using a favorite pencil… Cursive has always been an easy sell to third graders, but now many of them reserve their favorite pencil exclusively for cursive. They get pretty excited to use it… This results in better results and students who take greater pride in their work and exude more confidence.”

In an article on Getting Kids Reading, a website dedicated to helping parents find ways to help their children with their school work, Joyce Grant even went so far as to say giving a quality pencil to your child “will actually help with his [or her] school work.” And in an era in which standardized tests and benchmarks measure a student’s and teacher’s success, help is never a bad thing.

High-quality pencils not only help teachers reduce the amount of time wasted in the classroom with broken leads, continuous sharpening and overall poor performance, they can actually help a student take pride in their work.

Not bad for something as seeming simple as a pencil.

5 replies
  1. Guy in Texas
    Guy in Texas says:

    Our local schools (western Austin, Texas) _require_ Mirado Black Warriors, I think to combat just the kinds of problems discussed by the author.

    • Alexander Poirier
      Alexander Poirier says:

      That sounds like a step in the right direction! I’m interested to hear if other schools have similar requirements in place to prevent these issues.

  2. toby thole
    toby thole says:

    I think that the bad quality pencils are absolutely rubbish. I always buy high quality pencils and they are the best, when i sharpen them, the led does not fall out or break and the pencil does not split at all. But when I bought bad quality pencils, they very absolutely rubbish and they were from the rubbish shop called poundland!

  3. Tatiana
    Tatiana says:

    I volunteer in my 2nd grade daughter’s class, and the time wasted on sharpening pencils that continuously break is unbelievable! Even the Ticonderogas are slipping in quality. I have started taking a metal sharpener from Germany in my pocket to just keep up with the sharpening because those pencils have wreaked 4 sharpeners in the classroom. The worst problem, IMHO though, is the quality of writing is affected by lousy pencils and to see kids struggle with neatness (big part of the grade) with cruddy pencils that won’t stay sharp, with unstable leads due to breaking every 1/4″, it is so heartbreaking. Even if you pay for premium quality like Dixon T.s, you can’t be sure they are good (we bought the big pack of DT at Costco for this school year, and the leads are broken throughout the length of the pencil!)
    Bring back the old school pencil!!!!

  4. Alexis
    Alexis says:

    I am so frustrated with pencils (we are a homeschool family) I feel like I am constantly sharpening pencils and then the led falls out – we go through 4 pencils a lesson per kid. What is a good, high quality pencil?


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