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The Ball Pen Spinning Skill DLSL Students Used to Have

When I first started teaching high school at La Salle here in Lipa back in 1982, there was something that students did that fascinated me no end. This was the skill of spinning their ball pens with their fingers.

I was pretty sure that the fad started while I was in college in Manila. Nobody was doing this style of ball pen spinning when I left Lipa to go to college in 1975; and I certainly had not seen it done by my mates while I was there.

What I was more familiar with was a lot simpler: we just held the ball pen between the thumb and the pointer finger and twisted it this way and that. Sometimes, it was just an unconscious or even nervous movement, particularly during exams.

But this new skill of spinning the ball pen was an upgrade on what we used to do. While with the style I could do, the pen was held firmly between fingers and never let go, this new one made it spin above the thumb on its own.

The really skilful students could effortlessly make the ball pen spin clockwise then with a dextrous flick of a finger send it spinning the opposite direction.

As with any motor skill, spinning the ball pen required both patience and practice. Those who really became good at this could do it without thinking. For instance, the pens spun continuously while I lectured, to be interrupted when the students had to take down notes.

Then they resumed spinning.

It was more fascinating during quizzes or exams when the pens spun feverishly around the classroom. You would think that with part of the brain occupied with the spinning of the ball pen, doing so was a distraction.

But no, the students would tell me; spinning the ball pen, or so they said, actually helped them to think! Moreover, this was something that the girls could do as well as the boys.

Some teachers were not amused because inevitably, there were those who would drop their pens on the floor. I was always tolerant but there were those who thought it too much of a distraction when the pens dropped.

One teacher had a cardinal rule: the students could spin their pens all they liked during his class, but any pen that dropped on the floor was confiscated. I believe that teacher never had to buy ball pens.

I stopped teaching in 1999 to go full time into administration, so I did not really know what went on inside the classroom after that.

However, in the middle of the next decade, I asked one of the boys in my football team if students still spun their ball pens like they used to. He did not even know what I was talking about.

Perhaps the fad, just like others, eventually just died out. I don’t really know. Here are some videos I solicited of this ball pen spinning skill.

Contributed by Enrico Marasigan:

Contributed by Edgar de Castro:

Contributed by Vincent Paul Vasquez:

Contributed by Anthony Villamayor:

Contributed by Nicolo Balajadia:

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