Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Kids and Wastefulness

Why is it that, when kids need a circle about an inch in diameter, they cut that inch-sized circle out of the middle of the piece of paper they are given?  Why is it, when a girl has a runny nose, she takes two tissues to dab at her nose and then throws both of them in the trash?  Why is it that kids will cut through several sheets of paper to make a construction and then minutes later throw the whole thing in the trash?  Why do they use up a whole tape roll putting together pretend wallets and then pretend that they are not theirs when they are later found on the floor?  Why is it that, given brand new pencils, one of the first things kids do is to pull the eraser off of the top?  Why do kids cheerfully grind new pencils down to stubs in electric pencil sharpeners? 

OK, so I understand the grinding down of brand new pencils.  It is rather pleasing to let the sharpener grind away, for some inexplicable reason.  But, in general, why are kids, at least American kids, so wasteful of what they have in their classrooms?  How many times have I found complete sheets of paper in the recycling containers, just because they have one pencil mark on a corner?  Why do kids grab a whole handful of index cards, when they need just two? 

When kids have to provide their own pencils, colored pencils, highlighters, markers, and paper, you get the constant complaints that they don't have the supplies that they need to get their work done.  If the teacher provides the supplies (often out of his/her own money), the kids have no concern whatsoever for being conservative in their use.  At the end of the school day, I ALWAYS find pencils or markers on the floor - even if I have had the students clean the room, until it is spotless just before they leave.  Somehow, the mere movement of children through the classroom causes pencils to jump out of desks and boxes and place themselves on the floors - optimally in a hard to reach place under a desk. 

And, what is the solution?  How do you get kids to think about all the stuff they are wasting?  In one classroom I went to, the teacher put the student's initials on each pencil that the child was given out of the classroom supply.  At least then, you could tell who was constantly leaving pencils on the floor.  Maybe you could set up a class economy, where they have to 'buy' supplies by doing classroom jobs.  Alas, that doesn't work for a sub, but it might make me feel better. 

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