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The Power of The Red Ink Pen



So is it ok to use red ink to mark your students' work? Does the color red place a negative meaning in the minds of our students? Well, I am sure you know that it was really difficult to find a clear cut answer to these questions. I found out that the whole idea is debatable and situational for the most. However, I want to share with you two ideas that I found that are in support of the use of other colors other than red. In a book entitled 'The New Teacher's Toolbox' written by Scott M. Mandel new teachers are urged to leave the red pens alone! Mandel explained...

"In American society, and in most societies, red is considered a negative color. In our society, it is used on stop signs and lights, warning labels, poison, to indicate the devil, and so forth. If you see a red light, you naturally hesitate. We are conditioned to view the color red as something negative, or at least prohibitive.
A paper that is handed back full of red marks conveys to the student, often subconsciously, that there is something wrong with him or her intellectually. this can lead to a self-fulfilling prophecy, with the student lowering his or her own expectations and subsequent work quality."

Mandel also added that the use of more positive colors such as green or blue gives the child the sense that everything is alright, just like the green color at the traffic lights  which serves to guide drivers towards their destinations.


I have thought about it many times as I reflect on my own practice and I do believe that the color red does bring up a wall of self-consciousness, especially if we're talking about red Xs as opposed to red ticks. I encourage you to research this idea yourself and you can share your thoughts in the comments below.

You may be interested in these articles:

 Why are Some Teachers Prohibited from Grading in Red Ink?

Throw That Red Pen Away!

Nothing Wrong With a Red Pen!


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