An academy in the UK county of Cornwall has banned teachers from using red ink. From now on there will be a new grading system using green and purple pens. Why? Because everyone knows red is the color of rage, anger, punishment and periods. I embellished with that last part.
Vice principal Jennie Hick told The Cornishman:
Switching to the new marking system is certainly not about us going all soft and fuzzy. Students make more progress if it is a dialogue and the new system is designed to help that. A teacher will make two or three positive comments about a student’s homework and point out perhaps one thing that will take them to the next stage.
Two or three positive comments and then one that “takes them to the next level?” What if the homework is totally wrong and terrible? Nice penmanship! You managed to do your homework without smearing pudding all over it – good job! Next time try doing it while you are awake.
I have no recollection of caring at all about the color of the pen my teacher graded my papers with. It was always red. The only thing I cared about was whether I was going to get one of those little happy faces some teachers make, where the top line of the face comes around and looks like a cute little cartoon comb-over. I don’t think I would have cared whether that was in green, purple or glitter glue. Scratch that. I would have much preferred glitter glue.
Hick goes on to say, “A lot of primary schools are already using a similar system amazingly well and I think it was felt that red ink was a very negative colour.” Meh. Red isn’t a negative color. An F is an F whether it’s written in pink or red. So is an A. Are we going to stop grading kids soon so they don’t feel stunted by judgment?
I do like the idea of more comments and engaging the children about their work rather than just giving them a straight grade. But I think that would be effective no matter what color they were in. It seems a little silly to make a change like this, but I guess you can never tell until you see how the children react to it.