Monday, April 25, 2005
One of the stranger gripes I have been hearing lately is that some teachers, somewhere in the country, have supposedly switched from grading papers in red ink to grading them in purple ink. This, according to the critics, is supposedly to spare the feelings of children who might be jarred by seeing exactly the same criticisms written in red as opposed to purple.
First, what difference does it make if the teacher uses red ink or a different color? I recall having teachers who preferred green ink or black felt tip marker. The grade is the same, the comments are the same, so if the teacher prefers not to use red for any reason whatsoever, who cares? (And why do they waste their time caring about something so petty?)
Second, if it truly does help some kids learn if their corrections are in a less jarring color than red, what's wrong with helping them learn? Personally, I don't recall seeing red corrections as any more stigmatizing than those written in other colors, but if some kids do... why should I object to a teacher doing something to help them learn?
I do recall one teacher I had, who had a habit of writing a large, red grade on each paper, enclosed by a red circle, using a rather thick felt tip marker. As she returned papers to students, she would flash the grades to the class in what I think she hoped would be regarded as an accidental manner. If she were somehow forced to use purple, and believed that interfered with her attempts at stigmatization, I think she would have simply made her grades and circles even larger.
A woman after George Will's heart?