UK School Bans Teachers from Using Red Ink: It's 'Too Negative'

UK School Bans Teachers from Using Red Ink: It's 'Too Negative'

Red ink is mean according to a school in England, so teachers have now been prohibited from using the color to grade students’ papers.

Teachers at Mounts Bay Academy near Penzance, Cornwall, England, have been told to throw away their red markers and pencils because kids have their feelings hurt too badly when they see red correction marks on their school papers, The UK Cornishman reports.

Headteacher Sara Davey told the paper that from now on teachers will only be allowed to grade papers in green ink, with pupils being requested to reply to teacher comments in purple ink.

Vice principal Jennie Hick denied criticism that her school is overly worried about children’s self esteem at the expense of learning. “Switching to the new marking system is certainly not about us going all soft and fuzzy,” she said.

Yet Hick’s follow up comments seemed to cause doubt of her denial of the charge that the school is just indulging silly feel-goodism.

“Students make more progress if it is a dialogue, and the new system is designed to help that,” Hick claimed. “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.”

Hick insisted that the new system is working elsewhere: “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 color.”

It certainly appears that Mounts Bay Academy is more interested in not hurting kids’ feelings than in correcting bad school work, and the paper found that Chris McGovern, chairman of the Campaign for Real Education, was critical of the new grading ink system.

“A lot of schools seem to have a culture where they don’t like criticizing children, but actually, this helps them,” McGovern said.

McGovern also rejected the school’s claim that red ink is too hard for kids to read.

American schools have also come under criticism for attempting to soften the “negative” effects of bad grades on kids’ self esteem. Last year, for instance, the Milwaukee schools decided to get rid of their letter-grading system, substituting a new scoring system that doesn’t use the dreaded “F” grade.

When the announcement was made, Kenosha parent Sara Andrea-Neill criticized the move, saying, “I think (administrators) want letter grades to go away because they want to blur the line of failing students.”

A similar program was started early this year in Vancouver, Canada, when several schools dispensed with letter grades to some criticism.