Student comfort level affected by writing utensil choice

Anna Baldwin, Opinion Editor

The rivalry greater than all rivalries: Is a pen or a pencil better? The pencil is a classic writing utensil. Whether it’s a yellow, wooden one or a modern mechanical one, the pencil is beloved among students. On the other hand, the pen is a fun and colorful writing utensil, easily being other students’ preference.

Before the debate, a little history is in order. The pencil was invented in 1564, when a graphite mine was discovered England. The graphite was divided into sheets, and later cut into rods, then placed in wooden holders. Since these rods were impractical, in 1795, Nicolas Jacques Conte, a French officer in Napoleon’s army, invented the modern method of making pencils, the kiln fired powdered graphite with clay to make graphite rod form pencils.

Later in 1822, Sampson Mordan and John Isaac Hawkins patented the first mechanical pencil. Mordan then left his business partner to start his own company, “S.Mordan & CO,” but, it was destroyed by a bomb during World War II. Since then others have worked to improve mechanical pencils, such as adding a spring to the design to make the pencil more efficient.

As for the history of the ballpoint pen, it was invented in 1938 by László Bíró, a Hungarian newspaper editor, with help from his brother, a chemist. Biro realized the ink used in newspaper printing dried quickly so the brothers combined a slimy ink and a ball-socket mechanism to create a ballpoint pen.

The pencil has a lot of positive factors that make it better than a pen. The pencil is cheaper: students can get a pack of 24 Dixon, wooden, already sharpened pencils for $7.70. A pack of 24 black pens from Paper Mate InkJoy is $12.70. In addition the pencil provides more flexibly because if students make a mistake, they can simply erase it. “I usually use pencils because it’s a lot easier to fix my mistakes when writing,” junior Guadalupe Balangero said.

The pen has favorable characteristics as well. The pen lasts longer, students don’t have to get up and cause a distraction for the class in order to sharpen a pencil, and they don’t have to miss important notes to refill their lead in their mechanical pencil. A pen can also make students’ notes look neater and more efficient. “I prefer pens because I think my handwriting looks better in pen rather than pencils,” junior Molly Glacier said.

I am an avid pencil user and don’t see myself changing to a pen. I prefer to easily be able to change what I wrote or fix my mistakes without having scratches on my paper. With that being said, I would suggest students find their own way as to which writing utensil is better for them, but the pencil is a good choice, as it was the first invented and is a dependable choice for any confused student.