Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Teacher Dreams

The ancient Egyptians built temples where people could go to have their dreams interpreted.  They believed that dreams were messages from the gods that could help them resolve complex problems.  I had a dream the other night…about pencils.  I’ll tell you all about it, but first a little background for those of you who aren’t teachers…

Pencils are necessary in classrooms for obvious reasons.  Students can’t sit and listen to lectures forever (although they might feel like they do sometimes).  At some point, they have to work out a math problem, make notes on a science experiment, or record their thoughts and feelings in prose.  Pencils are a very useful invention and I consider them to be a revolutionary educational tool.  For instance, if the lead gets dull, you sharpen it.  Pencils are also cheap.  They come with their own eraser.  They come in an endless array of designs that make them handy as prizes and holiday gifts.
On the other hand, pencils have a dark side.  Ask any teacher.  A lot of pencils are duds.  They splinter and break as soon as you sharpen them.  The kids have to ask to sharpen them again.  And again.  The scene plays out something like this:
         “Ok class, if you have 7 flower pots and each flower pot has 15 flowers, how
          many flowers do you have total?”

Little Timmy’s hand flies into the air.  “Yes, Timmy?”
          “Can I sharpen my pencil?”

Deep breath.
Of course, not all pencils are duds.  A few remain intact.
They can be projectiles:             “It slipped.”    (and flew across the room)
They can be bargaining chips:      “I’ll trade you my Minecraft pencil for your twirly
                                                    eraser."
They can also be points of contention:        “He took my pencil.” – “Did not.”
In short, pencils, along with their joys and tribulations, are a big part of my everyday life, which brings me back to my dream.  I dreamt that Spec’s (yes, the liquor store) designed state of the art pencils.  Pencils that always sharpen perfectly and never break.  They were made out of some kind of nebulous miracle material that can only exist in dreams.  The trouble was that I couldn’t use the pencils in my classroom because they had the Spec’s logo on them, so I came up with a plan.  I went to Spec’s (which I never do) and bought thousands of these pencils.  I went home, sat down at my kitchen table and began scratching the Spec’s logo off of each pencil.  I woke up before I finished.
My respect to the ancient Egyptians, but I don’t think this particular dream is a message from the gods that will help me resolve a problem.  I think my dream just means that pencils stress. me. out.
Until someone revolutionizes the pencil (probably not Spec's) or technology makes them obsolete, I will continue to take deep breaths, smile, and sharpen pencils.