By Jonathan Smith, Editor in Chief
The stress is mounting. But it’s not the nearing exam week or end-of-the-year projects causing this. No, teachers will return more graded papers to my possession during the next four weeks, so one thing is certain: The red ink will flow freely.
But not anymore.
According to an article on CNN.com, red ink for grading is falling out of favor with teachers because of its negative stigma and stress it places on students.
One principal in Pittsburgh even told his teachers to grade in more “pleasant-feeling tones.”
Pen manufacturers have noted an increase in sales of purple pens as teachers embrace this new philosophy, as if the color of ink will inspire their students to reach new heights.
My questions remain: What happens when purple becomes synonymous with error, and are we simply trading in one negative color to create another?
Should the trend continue, ACU is going to have to rethink its school colors or face a dire hit to school spirit.
I can envision hundreds of sophomores, already burdened by the stresses of pledging a social club, fleeing the Homecoming football game’s sea of purple shirts as flashbacks from their latest English essay torment their minds.
Even more important than the color of ink used to grade, some suggest that teachers focus more on marking students’ correct work than their incorrect work.
Those intentions might be good; however, it seems to me an awful waste of ink if a goal of education is to get to a point where students answer more questions correctly than incorrectly.
Maybe at 21 years old I am just too far removed from a 14-year-old to understand how the mind of a ninth grader works in this day and age.
Or, maybe more likely, the concept of right and wrong has become so distorted that none of us think we have the right to say something even so basic as a math equation is wrong.
Call me insensitive, but I find it more imperative to tell a fourth grader that four times four does not equal 15 rather than extolling the child for knowing that two times four equals eight.
One of my journalism professors once marked in big red ink on a paper I wrote that I incorrectly used the word while. I don’t remember him telling me that I made good use of strong active verbs or that I correctly used a semicolon.
Whether he told me or not, I still have managed to feel secure enough in my abilities to use a semicolon properly, but since then, I sure have not confused the words although and while.
So, teachers, stick to red. Let your corrections jump off the page. If you must, include a nice encouraging note in a soothing hue of blue at the top of the essays.
Don’t create a generation of students so used to receiving only pleasant-feeling positive reinforcement that they can’t take occasional criticism of their work.
Some teachers might accomplish this with red ink. Others with lime green. But let’s leave purple alone.
Otherwise, Homecoming will never be the same.