Are erasers in school 'instruments of the devil?' One scientist says they should be banned

Every now and then a news story related to schools really catches my eye. This morning there was a cracker on BBC News: Are erasers in school instruments of the devil?

The story revealed that a leading cognitive scientist has suggested rubbers be banned from classrooms. In some schools, corrective fluid is already forbidden, and the scientist in question, Guy Claxton of Kings College London, is all for it. “Rubbers create a culture of shame about error. It’s a way of lying to the world, which says: ‘I didn’t make a mistake. I got it right first time.’ 

Claxton argues we should embrace our mistakes and hand in work, warts and all.

My children do love a rubber. Or erasers as we now call them. Their pencil cases are packed with ice-cream shaped ones, fluorescent ones, smelly raspberry ones. School trips appear to revolve around a trip to the visitor centre shop to buy a souvenir one. Weeks pass and they disintegrate in to small misshapen unrecognisable blobs. They mark the passing of the school year in a gentle familiar way.  

Part of me relishes their ‘old school’ presence in a world dominated by iPads.

But I do agree that we are in danger of raising a generation of children who are afraid to fail. In my blog Why it’s okay for your child to come last on sports day I explored the way we are at risk of raising a generation of children who give up when they don’t immediately get things right or win. I quoted one of the authors of US Bestselling book Nurture Shock, Po Bronson, who said: “From the the youngest age children are roundly cheered and celebrated for completing simple every day tasks. This creates junior praise-junkies. Children who are risk adverse,” says Bronson. “We need children to develop an accurate awareness of how well they’re doing.” 

I’d hate to see rubbers being demoted to the rank of blackboards and chalk i.e. funny things we used to use in the olden days. But I do think it’s vital to encourage our children to see errors as an essential part of learning. 

What do you think? Please Have Your Say below.