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Code Pink? “Purple is the new red”

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So wrote Naomi Aoki in the Boston Globe about a kinder, gentler approach to telling students they made a mistake.

Teachers on both coasts are increasingly marking their students’ mistakes in purple ink rather than red.

Sharon Carlson, a health teacher at John F. Kennedy Middle School in Northampton, Massachusetts was quoted by Aoki in her story as follows:

“If you see a whole paper of red, it looks pretty frightening.”

Aside: I once had a teacher who’d say, as he handed a particularly error-filled paper back to a student, “Watch out you don’t get blood all over your shirt – this paper is bleeding.”

I loved it then, and I love it now.

I want my mistakes to hurt, so circle ’em in bold red ink, please.

Because that’s how you improve.

You feel the pain of screwing up, and try to avoid it.

I wince when a bookofjoe reader points out an error, and in the next zeptosecond I kiss the screen, so delighted am I to have a reader who cares enough to mention it, and even more pleased am I to be able to instantly correct the error.

So bring it – PLEASE.

If I could have such corrections come into my computer in flashing red with a siren, that would be even better.

But maybe next year.

Or, as they say in the computer industry, “real soon now.”

You could say my philosophy is the antipode of “shoot the messenger.”

Here I fete the bringer of bad news.

But I digressed. Where was I? Oh, yeah, red ink.

Read the Globe story (linked above) and see what you think.

Then have a look at this one, from the November 26, 2004 Cedar Rapids [Iowa] Gazette.

The heartland doesn’t appear to be falling for the trendy move to purple.

However, they do seem to have embraced green for corrections, after an Iowa Writing Project workshop study that found “green was a less intimidating color for marking student mistakes.”

Sorry, but I still want mine bloody.

“That which we call a rose by any other word would smell as sweet.” (Romeo and Juliet, II,ii,1-2)

I agree with Shakespeare’s sentiment, but mistakes are not sweet things by any stretch of the psyche.

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