The #Pencilchat Saga – why did it go viral?

This is such a good story that you cannot miss reading it… and I do suggest you read the follow up to the tweets in Storify… it is really hilarious at times but it is also so true…

basically the gist reads something like this…in a tweet allegory pencils are compared to technology and when you compare what the pencil used to mean for the teacher of the 1900s to what the technology means to the 21st century teacher… I think that the similarities are rather there. There are people who want to stop teachers using technology in the same way as people wanted to stop teachers from using pencils in class… Read on… it’s really good…(The #pencilchat log)

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15 thoughts on “The #Pencilchat Saga – why did it go viral?

  1. This analogy is so clever! It is interesting to think about how when pencils and pens were introduced in schools, students and educators were willing to use them to the best of their ability as a learning aid, and viewed writing with them as a means of teaching by the teacher and communicating by the students. They allowed for expression of ideas through writing, and drawing and were improved in quality and style to include coloured pencils, different shades and thickness. I can definitely see the brilliant comparison with technology as it too is continuously improving and new innovative ideas emerge daily, allowing for expression, sharing and communication of ideas. What is funny about it is how some educators are not open to the idea and are reluctant to explore the hundreds of uses of technology in the classroom. Who knows, maybe with this analogy more people will see the connection and be more willing to accept technology in the classroom just like pencils were accepted in the 1900s.

    • To expand on Daniela’s argument, every time a new medium is developed arguments pro and against explode in what I call ‘opinions war’. For those in favour the new medium it is seen as a miracle, whilst for those against the new medium, in no doubt it is a curse ready to destroy humanity. In ancient times, when writing was developed, it was argued by some that it was a dangerous medium. Previously to writing people relied on their hearing, seeing and especially on memory. Thus, the arguments against writing posed fear towards loss of memory and the auditory sense. The same happened when the radio was invented; Radio will destroy writing…echoed the ancestors. When the television set was invented it was agued it will kill the radio and it will damage people’s eyesight and intellectual abilities… and so on and so on. With every invention, fear of the new medium raises resistance towards the acceptance and incorporation of the new medium in one’s life and especially in education. Fear of the unknown should be overcome so as all could understand the benefits of technology both in class and in one’s life.

      • I guess it is in our human nature that we feel safer in the world that we know. Some are more adventurous and are ready to explore the unknown and find that they can easily catch up. Others feel less confident in exploring new things and they may see new things as threatening for them. However, I believe that by time, even those who are afraid of the “unknown” will eventually start to look and explore the new things, in this case about what technology could offer in the classroom.

        Many argued that the use of internet was getting books to an end. Although this could be true, I think that most of us use the internet before we actually try to find the book itself. Even if one needs to find something in a particular book, finding it as an e-book is most probably the most convenient. By time we started to get used to it, at least I did, and thanks to technology and e-books I can find information easily.

        Before I used e-books for the first time, I thought that it would be better if I continued to borrow books from the library – as you may have seen from other post, I am one of those who find it difficult to change, but eventually after I used it I saw the great benefits of it.

        This was the case again when I came to create a Facebook account. Most of my friends had Facebook much before I did and a lot of them used to tell me to create one. I always refused as I thought that HI5 (in those times) was enough.

        Such two instances show that I am more comfortable living in the world that I know, but at least I always try to change. In fact I enjoyed using the interactive whiteboard and I hope that in the coming teaching practice there are interactive whiteboards installed in the classrooms. Even if I find it difficult to catch up, I really do believe that technology nowadays can offer a lot of opportunities and I am quite confident that as what happened with the pencil analogy, the same would happen in the case of technology.

      • Having said all this, I believe that there is “no one size fits all” – and that people change in different ways at different rates. I am not one to believe that all teachers should change their attitudes completely and go all technology – oriented…I mean I am an advocate of good use of innovation in Education whether that requires the use of technology or not. For example you mention eBooks. There are people who wouldn’t read any other books. Speaking about myself, I much prefer to use the traditional paper in books rather than eBooks. But that doesn’t mean that everybody should read eBooks and it also doesn’t mean that whoever doesn’t read eBooks are not using technology. Technology is an umbrella term. One makes use of it because one not only needs to but because one cannot really do without it…

  2. All I say is that we have to adapt to the needs of the 21st century learners. We have to put ourselves into their shoes and be ready to accept change!! The minute we forget we were students and depict ourselves as authoritarians, we will stop being educators.

  3. History teaches us that people have always been reluctant to change, that is a fact. Indeed, some might argue that students are able to learn without technology but there is no reason why students should be neglected such an opportunity. We cannot forget that most of the children we teach in schools today are computer geeks; they have been brought up in a digitalized world, they do not know otherwise. So it would be rather unnatural and unproductive if we were to dissociate education from technology. Speaking personally, I found technology to be an awesome aid in the teaching of history; the many resources and primary sources that I came across on the internet were infinite- being able to show the fall of the Berlin Wall to my students right there and then is truly exceptional. This is a link to a speech by Sir Ken Robinson ‘Bring on the learning revolution!’, which I thought was very inspiring.

  4. History teaches us that people have always been reluctant to change, that is a fact. Indeed, some might argue that students are able to learn without technology but there is no reason why students should be neglected such an opportunity. We cannot forget that most of the children we teach in schools today are computer geeks; they have been brought up in a digitalized world, they do not know otherwise. So it would be rather unnatural and unproductive if we were to dissociate education from technology. Speaking personally, I found technology to be an awesome aid in the teaching of history; the many resources and primary sources that I came across on the internet were infinite- being able to show the fall of the Berlin Wall to my students right there and then is truly exceptional. This is a link to a speech by Sir Ken Robinson ‘Bring on the learning revolution!’, which I thought was very inspiring. http://www.ted.com/talks/sir_ken_robinson_bring_on_the_revolution.html

  5. P.s.
    Here is a link to a picture, which I thought encapsulates what 21st students are accustomed to with regards to technology, it links a lot with what Dorianne expressed above…

  6. Surely the best way to get people to engage in learning is to allow them to use the things that they use outside of the educational environment. Teachers must therefore embrace technology and implement it within the classroom. During my school observation I met several teachers who used technology frequently during lessons and who told me “they don’t know how they managed without it before”.

    However, there were others who resist it, discourage others from using it and believe there is no need for any of this. Today educators are provided with new innovative tools and resource (such as online programs, games, smart boards, multimedia, blogs, e-portofolios, robotics). An effective teacher, must change with the times, and learn how to effectively use technology within the class.

    This video shows what an effective teacher can do; with motivated students and technology: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zRCLfV8-jCE&feature=player_embedded#!

  7. Sometimes people don’t accept changes and therefore a lot of contestations arise. It takes time to people to understand that time passes and therefore changes must be done. This is like when women used to wash clothes with their hands and when the washing machine was invented they taught it wasn’t good to wash clothes in, the same happened as previously said about the television and also when the dishwasher was invented. But then, when people get used to the new technology they don’t even think about it and it becomes old technology. They just use it and that’s it. The same is happening now, teachers and parents, and not only, think that using technology in class may result in a failure or think that students will not learn because there are no rules taught. Let me give an example: when teaching a language, in my case Italian, one must go across verbs and therefore one thinks that these must be taught in a logical way i.e. get the students to know the verbs by heart and not by showing them a video or a cartoon and from that video or cartoon teach verbs. In a few years people won’t even talk about technology in class because they will get used to it and forget about it just like they did with the television, the dishwasher and the washing machine.

  8. For some of us changing the way of how we teach (meaning make the use of technology) may be difficult. During my observation period in a particular school I observed that there were teachers who were willing to change in the way they teach, they used technology in a creative way in which the lesson was very interesting. On the other hand I also observed teachers who used technology but not in a good way. Example making use of the interactive whiteboard as a normal board or instead of the projector here the lesson for these students was a little bit boring. In my opinion when we are going to make use of such a change in our teaching we have to go in it with all our energy. This is because the students that we have in front of us are all born in technology and most of the time they know better than we do regarding technology. It is good that we try but we need to be very careful of what we are doing.
    Another point that I would like to point out is that it is in our human history that when there is a new thing introduced there will be people who say that it is good and others who say it is bad. Regarding to technology I think that we should make use of it in our classes as it gives us a wider way of how attractive we can do the lesson to the students, from where they can learn easier and come up with new ideas of the particular subject. I also think that by time technology will be used by all teachers as it is a very useful tool regarding all the subjects taught in our schools.

  9. It is very hard for people to accept change especially when that change can be of a challenge to their usual environment. They show fear to any possible change to their niche which they have managed to carve be it at home, in the streets or at the work place. This kind of behavior can be seen a normal and can be compared with many other changes which we hear about through the several sorts of media surrounding us.

  10. The analogy of pencils and technology is very interesting. However, I think that the main concern for some of the teachers with regards to technological changes is its dynamicity as opposed to changes in the 1900s. The pencil as a tool is static, once you master its function, it has a stable purpose. On the contrary to technology, which is highly dynamic. This means that it is almost impossible to “master it” in the sense that continuous development and new gadgets are developed at fast rates.

    This may be seen as a threat for some or an opportunity for others. It is regarded as a treat by those who find it difficult to 1) become tech savvy 2) catch up with technological developments 3) remain in touch with latest technologies. This hybridity in the use of technology may instill a sense of uneasiness even because the role of a teacher in essence is to teach, and teaching with unfamiliar means, diminishes one’s confidence to do so in certainty. To meet this challenge, we must embrace this opportunity rather than resist it and get out of our comfort zone to explore different media.

  11. Pencils were of great importance in the 1990’s while in this 21st C, technology replaced their importance in the educational fields. Not all of us agree with this and conformity is doubted by some. This does not apply only for teaching, but it also applies for many other aspects of life, like the games and the ways of living. In the past, children used to play ‘passju’, ‘pizzi pizzi kanna’ and other games now considered as traditional. Knowadays, children use computer gamings, Xbox, play station and more. Before they used to search from a tangable encyclopedia, while now more online search is done. These are fractions of the constant changes happening around us and that people conform with. It’s not a wise choice if we tend to create barriers infront of technologies if these really facilitate learning. However, what now is considered as new and innovative, it will be considered as old and traditional in few years time:

    “For students starting 4 years technical degree means that half of what they learn in their first year of study, will be outdated by their third year of study”!!!

    To make learning more stimulating and increase students’ engagement, it will be a good idea to try to combine the lets say ‘traditional’ resources together with the ‘modern’ resources. In this way, a lesson will be more interactive and comprehensive, because the advantages of both resources will be in action.

    I’m going to share a link, that in my opinion includes one of the best video’s ever that describes the impact and radical changes that the technology has on our lives! Don’t miss out this video because it’s a must see! I was really astonished by certain facts! Enjoy! 🙂

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