I love it when I have tangible proof I have clicked with my students. It’s not a requirement for a good relationship, but it’s really nice for my ego.
My students frequently assume little things from me: my vocabulary, my taste in literature, my preference for Jasper (not Edward), my one-size-does-not-fit-all approach to education, the way I write my 7s and Zs in the European style. The best part is when they insist on writing with my pens. Last night, I was watching Endymion take notes, and it made my little heart sing.
I use black liquid ink pens. Generally, I buy them from the dollar store; quality is not really an issue. The pens have a practical use, in that most students find my writing easy to read if it’s black ink on white paper. I also like the texture of the writing, the feel of the pens, and the smell. If I can’t have a quill and home-made ink, I want this type of pen.
My favourite students have all adopted the use of black liquid ink pens. They don’t become my favourites because they use the pens; the favouritism occurs first. The advocacy for black liquid ink pens just seals the bond.
Naturally, my students’ adoption of my pens is strictly due to their devotion to me, but I wonder if other students would choose black liquid ink pens for another reason; I wonder if part of our “literacy problem” is the lack of aesthetics in writing. Students are taught to write in pencil, make their letters the same way each time they write them, conform to standards set by an institution. When they get older, they have to use ballpoint pen, or type, because legibility is the main issue; teachers don’t have time to squint at papers when they have several hundred of them to mark.
What would happen if we handed each kid the writing implement of their choice (a purple crayon for Harold, of course), let them choose their writing surface, didn’t follow any stupid rules about margins or font size, and let them doodle if the spirit moved?