Mindful Musings, Teaching Travails

Writing Tools

Professional people do a lot of professional development. Depending on the event it’s often at a swanky hotel or function centre, with swanky food and a plethora of monogrammed notepaper and pens. Over the years I have built up a store of writing pads and writing implements from such events.

Covid-19 lockdowns brought a sudden halt to all that: everything moved online – which is far more convenient for me, as I have no distractions that interrupt me, like young children requiring attention or animals which make noises which are amplified to hysteric-levels through computer microphones. Online PDs, though, are also far less social and have their own contributions to frustration and eye-strain, when the technology doesn’t work so the speaker can’t be heard or the PowerPoint is too small to see … or simply when they’re programmed within an already-screen-dominated day of teaching from home.

The other day I was looking through my pen tub to find something to write with. Shock! Horror! Almost all the pens failed … too old, not enough ink, tips too scratchy …

Time to go to some more PDs, I thought; time to stock up my supply. Shame they’re not scheduling many live PDs yet!

So I dug right at the back of my tub and found my ‘asbestos pen’: not a pen made of asbestos, but one carrying the name of an asbestos removal company. Immediately I remembered how it came into my possession …

Around four years ago I was coming home from an in-country study tour to Germany. I filled out the Australian Customs declaration form, which every person entering Australia must do. The man sitting next to me watched my ease with the form, then asked me to fill his out for him. He was an immigrant from the middle east whose written English was not fluent, especially when faced with the jargon-filled government-speak English. I happily obliged, asking him for the statistics needed and scribing them into the indicated boxes. He had given me his pen to fill in his form as I had already put mine away; when I handed it back to him he indicated that I should keep it. So I did.

That’s the story of how I got my ‘asbestos pen’ which, because it made it way to the back of my pen tub, still works well today.

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