The Musings of

Something full of magic, religion, bullsh*t.

Monday, April 04, 2005

Purple is the new red.

In their relentless battle against ignorance, teachers may have recently discovered a powerful new weapon: purple pens. Well, to be accurate, the weapon includes green pens, indigo pens and any other pen that isn't red. You see, the education establishment has figured out why children aren't learning -- too many of our teachers are callously using red pens to correct papers. Yes, like bloody whip marks, these little red slashes are destroying the self esteem of our most tender pups. Rightfully outraged parents have pointed out that red is "stressful" and "symbolic of negativity." So to placate the progressive parents, many school systems are banning teachers from grading with "abrasive" red pens.

According to the AP article:
The disillusionment with red is part of broader shift in grading, said Vanessa Powell, a fifth-grade teacher at Snowshoe Elementary School in Wasilla, Alaska.

"It's taken a turn from 'Here's what you need to improve on' to 'Here's what you've done right,"' Powell said. "It's not that we're not pointing out mistakes, it's just that the method in which it's delivered is more positive."
So let me get this straight. In a continuing effort to remove any social stigmatism from the school system, teachers are (1) focusing on material already learned by the student rather than telling them how to improve and (2) use purple pens because red pens have a negative connotation. Call me crazy, but if you continue to used purple instead of red, won't the purple soon develop the same emotional baggage as the red? I can't imagine that the "abrasiveness" is inherent to the color red, much less that it has any correlation with grading. Bad grades suck whether corrections are made in blood or glitter pen, and no amount of purple ink is going to have a difference on kids who won't or can't learn. I think the only rational teacher interviewed summed things up very nicely by stating:
"I don't think changing to purple or green will make a huge difference if the teaching doesn't go along with it," [Charles County, Maryland, reading and writing specialist Janet] Jones said. "If you're just looking at avoiding the color red, the students might not be as frightened, but they won't be better writers."
Well, God bless us every one. Maybe there are some good teachers left.
Centinel 3:40 PM #


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