If you thought pens and paper had long been replaced by smart phones and emoji, well, we can’t say we’d blame you. Yet in this modern world where everything is so fast and everything is online, the humble pen has again become key. It has again become something you aspire to owning, because of what schools call the Pen Licence.
This is a really big deal. You won’t know that and you can’t really grasp it unless you’re a teacher or a parent, but the moment a child gets permission to use a pen instead of a pencil is gigantic.
It’s come from just straight practicality: it is easier to use a pencil when you’re learning to write. Teachers call pencils ‘forgiving’ in how easily you can write and erase what you’ve done. They’re easier to hold because of their particular shape and of course because they don’t have ink, you don’t have to think about them running out or being broken.
Once a child has mastered handwriting to a certain level, though, that’s when schools want them to move on to pens. From a certain point, they will not only be allowed to use a pen, they will be required to. It’s a serious point and it’s now genuinely a milestone in a child’s school career.
It’s also just something that causes more anxiety than you could possibly imagine a pen ever could. Now you know what the Pen Licence is, imagine this: imagine being the parent of two children of this age and one of them gets their licence before the other. Imagine being the last child in the class to get one.
On the bad side, the pen becomes the focus of anxiety and even fear. Yet on the good side, this writing tool is the focus of true yearning and the ability to use one well is recognised as a skill.
Pens are not just tools. They are a deep part of our society and sometimes we simply forget that.