This past week, I watched a fifth grade student organize about a dozen sharpened #2 pencils with great precision. I smiled to myself, thinking back to the days when I, too, would sharpen each and every one of my pencils to a lethal point. It was if the beginning of the school year would require me to write till each one was dull. Though that was never the case, there was something wonderful about seeing the possibilities in those sharpened pencils.
Then there were the notebooks. I loved the brand new, unblemished notebooks. I dreamed of perfect notes with no crossouts and with notes that held the critical information that would result in fabulous grades. Those empty pages were intimidating. As soon as I placed one of those perfect pencils on the page, my notebooks lost their allure. It was too easy to misspell a word or to forget Roman numeral III.
As I reflect on those days, I wish that someone had helped me see that the sharpened pencils had erasers and that pristine notebooks were designed for brilliant thoughts and lousy mistakes. Both can co-exist. So, for each student, I wish you sharp pencils that quickly dull but can be resharpened with just a little attention and a crisp new notebook that will hold wisdom and a few doodles.