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Pencil Metaphor

Today my colleague and PLN member, Kevin Jarrett, shared this infographic. It was too good not to share.


This particular metaphor references the willingness of individuals to embrace technology in the classroom, which makes the idea of the pencil even more ironic. Yet, the more I read each of the descriptions, the more I was able to picture individuals and groups of people that I’ve encountered who fit these characteristics. Very few of the situations that I can think of have anything to do with technology. I identify with this metaphor so much because of how it is applicable to any kind of change.


It reminds me of the PBS behavior support triangle. In most cases, 80% of people are willing to go along with changes and roll with them. 15% will resist them, but they will comply – just not always with the best attitude or consistency. The remaining 5%  are those who use every fiber of their being to resist changes.


What astounds me when reviewing both of these is how loud of a voice the erasers and “red zone” seem to have. They don’t just seek to resist changes in their own lives, but they seek to undo the work that others around them are doing. What could possibly motivate this behavior? I really don’t know. I am constantly in awe of those who so vehemently act in this manner. The effort that they place into resisting any changes in their lives and blocking those who stand behind the changes could be redirected positively with only a fraction of the spent energy. The erasers in this scenario are not like those in my classroom, who seem to wear down in a day. Where do schools (and any other facet of life) go from here? Will there be a point where the anti-change agents voices are overshadowed by those working to move our schools forward? We have to hope so. That’s the only thing that keeps the pencils lead sharpened.

9 Responses

  1. Hi! My name is Amanda Warner and I’m a student in EDM 310 at the University of South Alabama. For the next few weeks I will be following your blog and commenting on your post as a requirement for my class. Feel free to check out my blog and my class blog in the links provided.

    I think it is so neat how the pencil metaphor works. I like how each part of the pencil is broken down into different categories. After reading this post I decided to pick up a pencil to see what type I am, and it seems that I am in between the “wood” and the “sharp ones”. This post was very interesting and I look forward to following you!

    What part of the pencil are you?

    My Blog
    My Class Blog

  2. My name is Levi Seymour and I am an EDM310 student at the University of South Alabama. I really enjoyed reading this blog post and finding out your take on the direction of education. I thought that the pencil metaphor was great, it was clearly well thought out and it made a lot of sense. The bit about the “hangers-on” made me laugh. Anyway, I agree with the pencil metaphor and your insistence that we, as current or future educators, have to keep hope that change for the better is on the way. Awesome blog post and I can’t wait to read more in the future!

  3. My name is Daisy Snow and I am currently in EDM310 at the University of South Alabama. I loved this blog post. I would have never thought about the pencil metaphor. It is so true though. We have very few leaders with all the people in the world. As for the erasers, we have those people in the world. I have no idea who would want to degrade other people when we should be helping one another. Great blog! Looking forward to more!

  4. My name is Jay Shiver and I am currently in EDM310 at the University of South Alabama. I honestly never would have thought of comparing these different groups of people to pieces of a pencil. You seem to firmly believe in having technology in the classroom. This was an intriguing blog post.

  5. Hey! I really like this pencil metaphor. Tell your friend he did a great job! I am your newest follower of this wonderful blog. When you get a minute, come by and follow me too! Have a great summer.

  6. Hi, I’m Katelin Brown from EDM310 at the University of South Alabama and I think this metaphor is wonderfully creative and very accurate. It’s very difficult to explain the characteristics of people who are introduced to new technology. After reading all the points in the photo, I also began to remember certain people, whether it be positive or negative. I enjoyed reading this post and Thank you so much for sharing!!

  7. My name is Marie Allgood. I am a student in EDM 310 from the university of South Alabama. I love your blog. The pencil metaphor is right point. Since I have been in school to become a teacher I find myself coming across metaphors a lot. This is by far one of the most accurate ones. I am excited to follow you and learn many things. Thanks for taking the time to blog so that others may learn from you.

  8. […] View the original article here […]

  9. […] en geef aan wat bron en doel zijn; om welke vorm het gaat; en wat de functie van de metafoor is. https://keepingkidsfirst.wordpress.com/2012/01/07/pencil-metaphor/ Deze infographic vergelijkt mensen met een potlood, en geeft aan wat hun gedrag is. Het doel […]

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