Thoreau's Computer

When I came across this bit in Dennis Barron’s A Better Pencil: Readers, Writers, and the Digital Revolution (Oxford, 2009), I immediately became so amused, tickled, and excited that I had to read it aloud.  (Note: this always annoys the bejezus out of my dear, patient wife).  So I thought I’d share it here:

When the pencil with its own built-in eraser came on the scene, some teachers wanted to ban it from the classroom, arguing that students would do better, more premeditated writing if they didn’t have the option of erasing and revising. The anti-eraser group argued that if the technology makes error correction easy, students will just make more errors. Other teachers feared the impact of erasers not just on student cognition, but on student health as well: children might chew on the ends of the new eraser-equipped pencils even more than they already chewed on their all-wood pencils. (44)

Baron is responsible for The Web of Language, “the go-t0 site for language in the news.”


One thought on “Thoreau's Computer

  1. It is a good quote. But, you know, in Texas, we still have Ready Writing contests. I’m a judge for these. It’s timed writing. Sure, students can scratch things out and change words, if they have time. Most do have time and don’t; they turn in their work early. Many students do not use computers for revision in these contests. Serious disadvantage.

    Ah, student health. Those eraser eaters!

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