it can be hard to motivate pupils when they return from summer holidays to the hot classroom. Their eyelids are as leaden as their pencils.
Thank you, then, to Japanese pencil maker Pentel, which has a pencil lead that promises to keep children awake as effectively as a rap over the knuckles.
The company's scientists have delved deep into those same Shinto mysteries of aromatherapy that brought us the aromatic alarm clock, which ensured that pupils arrived at school on time.
Applying nanotechnology and aromachology, the boffins have embedded long lasting aromas of rosemary, mint, lemongrass and green tea in the lead of their pencils.
The first super pencil off the Pentel assembly line won Japan's "coveted" Stationery of the Year award.
The pencils cost about pound;1 a pack. Drowsy pupils will be able to choose between three perfumes: refresh, healing and positive. Keep them in a pencil case at room temperature, the company says, and the therapeutic aromas will linger for two years.
The early practitioners of aroma healing and green tea making did not, one suspects, anticipate their sacred arts being condensed into a pencil lead. Fortunately for today's schools, their successors were wide-eyed and alert to the possibility.