Friday, February 11, 2011

I believe in red pens

Aaaah. New grading pens. My favorite. Specifically, I like the Pilot G-2 retractable with red ink. It glides across the paper, doesn't smear, and shines like a beacon of knowledge through a 7th grade paper of fog.

There is a movement out there, part of this special, special snowflake mentality, that says that grading with red pens hurts students' feelings. They say you should use purple, or blue, or maybe just give everyone As. But I reject this notion. I embrace the red. (I feel the need to give some credit here where credit is due. I came to my love of red ink, in part, through Carol Jago's Papers, Papers, Papers. That woman is a genius)

For one thing, red is visually stunning. It contrasts with the pencil or black ink, and stands out boldly against the white paper. It keeps parents and students from claiming I did not, in fact, slave over their essays at length on my day off work. And it is our cultural color to say "Stop! Don't do this anymore!" There is nothing quite so jarring as receiving an essay back that looks as though it's bleeding.

And, I suppose, that is why people think we should be using sparkly pink gel pens to soothe our students' battered egos. Never let them know what failure feels like. Stroke their heads and tell them that their crap smells like lilies. But it doesn't. It smells like crap, just like mine. And sooner or later, they will have to learn this. They are not special snowflakes. They are citizens of the world. A world that is both beautiful and amazing and rewarding and fucking hard. Sometimes you won't get the job. Sometimes you won't get the girl. It does them a disservice to act like this won't happen, and keeps them from learning coping skills necessary to be successful and happy in the world.

So I sing praises to the red. I wish I could carry a red pen with me everywhere and correct menus, signs, and other public writing. (I do, in fact, usually have a red pen in my purse. I am afraid if I start using it, though, I'll get run out of town).  I want to annotate facebook. I want to paint the town red, just to show you where you're misusing commas. I want to bleed out the bad grammar and poor vocabulary. I want to rid the world of homophone fail and unnecessary quotation marks.

If there's anything this world needs more of, it's red ink. So I sing your praises, Pilot G-2. My tiny weapon in a grammar-less world.

No comments:

Post a Comment