Saturday, September 6, 2008
No. 2 Pencils
Photo by Alex
Today was the start of the tutoring program that I volunteer for. Believe it or not, I'm the high school level (and 8th grade) Algebra tutor. I spent about thirty minutes sharpening pencils, tons of dull pencils. One of the first things that struck me was the crappy, weak, electric pencil sharpener made available for the job. It would shudder and shake, overheat and seize up - and that was with me going very easy on it, not trying to shove the pencil down it's throat in the least. Anyway, I was thinking "Whatever happened to the old silver hand cranked models?". Those worked just fine. Heavy duty industrial all metal parts. Now we get half plastic crap from China.
I was also struck by the fact that 9 out of 10 pencils, besides being dull leaded, were in fine shape. Full length, almost brand new shiny yellow No. 2 pencils. But, and there always is a but, the erasers were rubbed down to nothing on more than half of them. A pretty, almost brand new pencil, but with the eraser gone in the first few uses of its life.
I wonder what this means? What can this tell us about a school, or a weekend tutoring program, or even the state of our educational system nation-wide? What can it tell us about an economic demographic in a particular area of a city when the erasers are all rubbed to a nub.