School Thoughts

Red shocks students

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Not too long ago, someone said it was not a good idea to correct with a red pen, because it could traumatize children.  Shortly after, another “specialist” performed a scientific study and confirmed this as a fact.

Since that time, it became a “holy word” and, in the school context, there is a strong disapproving glance if a teacher tries to use that colour to correct his student’s work.

However, there is no problem in using orange with this purpose, or green (this colour has a high popularity), violet, pink, even a fluorescent colour: if your students can understand your corrections, then it’s ok…. But do not mess with RED!

A couple of words come to my mind, related with this colour: blood, violence; and I get really scared about that and I think: oh, it’s been an act of cruelty to use this colour all this time! Let’s pray for our pupils to forgive us!

Leaving aside irony (just a little bit) I am quite concerned that we leave the specialists say what’s right and what’s wrong… for some unknown reason we don’t question them.

Wow! Aren’t we professionals?

Let’s  put the feet on the ground, red is just a colour as much as others; in fact, it has an impact (all interior designers know that), but a relative one if we consider that the really important thing is the type of correction (and comments) that are made with that colour.

In short, if I use green but I write in a student’s work: “Redo” “Your handwriting is not clear”, “There are a lot of spelling mistakes” (the only thing left to say is: you suck!), colour would have no relevance at all.

Damocle’s sword can hurt students, even if it’s green or red.

Therefore, I consider that it’s important to value kid’s work, to remark what they can do right. Of course it’s necessary to highlight the mistakes in order to get better but it’s not the same if a teacher writes: “Your handwriting isn’t clear”, than if he says: “I’d love to know your story but it’s difficult for me to understand your handwriting. Could you write it again?”

When will the time come when we begin to respect more our kids, to consider their productions as works of future writers, competent users of written language?

Translation courtesy of Silvia Siccardi