Correcting with Red Pen

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Do red pen markings traumatize kids?


Recently on our facebook page, I posed the following question:

Studies have suggested that the color red is associated with negativity. They say correcting papers with a red pen can cause emotional distress in students. Do you think this is true - or is it hogwash? What color do you use to correct papers?

Here are some of my favorite comments:

Ginny:
I use red and we call it THE DREADED RED PEN and we make dramatic "dun DUN dun" noises when I bring it out. A sense of humor will ease any self-esteem damage.


Jackie:
Really? We are professional educators. Use whatever writing implement you please in whatever color you please! Emotional distress! Perhaps Crayola should remove red from the crayon box. Don't want our children in distress while they color a heart or rose for Mom on Mother's Day. Pardon my sarcasm, but really...


Jana:
I use whatever color I have readily available, even if it is red. I think that one of the many problems we have in education and in society is the 'everybody wins' mentality. We all make mistakes. Pointing them out as plainly as possible is the only way we can learn from them. We should be less worried about hurting a child's feelings, and more determined to teach our children that self esteem, perseverance, and confidence does not come from the color of a pen.


Heather:
In high school I had a teacher who we said would "bleed on our papers" because we'd get them back covered in red!


Kelley:
Hogwash and then some! I use whatever I have on hand and if needed highlight areas that are really needing assistance. Words and attitude do more for or against a child that pen color ever could or will.


Amanda:
I use bright colors...usually orange for my 3rd grader and yellow for my 7th grader, because it's their favorite colors. What do they think we should do? Mark incorrect answers with a ?? You don't pay your bills with the correct amount, they don't call you with a friendly reminder that you goofed. They just end your service! Often times I'll highlights the ones that they got wrong so that we can go over them together. In that respect, it's more for me to remember which ones my kids need work on rather than screaming "HEY, YOU GOT THIS ONE WRONG!!".


Ghoufraan:
Red, pink and green ! I do not believe in these studies! Any color that u associate with correcting mistakes will look bad at the end even blue! A good teacher must not use the colors more than a kid does!


Teri:
I am waiting on the "study" that says tests cause negativity and should never be administered because it causes people to grow up and shoplift (or some other stupid thing)! Good grief what a load of hogwash! What a candy butt society we have become! :<


Mary:
As a teacher, I used a variety of colors. My 7 year old doesn't see the color, he sees all the markings made by the teacher, which distresses him.


Joanie:
I agree with the red not being a good idea! My son went to public school, just one year, his teacher scribbled all over his hard work with red. It broke his little heart! She then switched to green. :-)


Kristy:
Besides, red is associated with STOP...as in you got it wrong and need to review it. Maybe we should change the color of stop lights and stop signs because the red color contributes to road rage... (rolls eyes)


Stephanie:
One of the most ridiculous things I've heard yet, and I'm in college! An F is an F no matter what color it's written in. If students don't want to feel emotionally distressed when they get their grades back then maybe they should hit the books. Changing the color of the ink won't do a damn thing to help them.


Tammy:
No they really don't care about the color as much...however some teachers are so critical that they mark up a paper so much and that is what upsets students. If the teacher always acnkowledges effort then the kids don't care what the color for corrections are.


Mayrin:
Yes it is true in someways, I think depends on the grade level too. Junior High School students are more mature and better understanding on how they are being evaluated. But sometimes it is good to use a red pen so they can see how they can do better for next time. But since in the school I used to practice in, they recommended to use blue or green ink.


Desarae:
Whatever color I can find first! I tend to use purple a lot though.


Maria:
Well they better associate wrong answers and not studying with negativity! I mean come on! Should I use pink and say, "Yay you got it wrong...but that's okay!" because honestly it's not!


Sara:
When in school, the red never bothered me, and I'm not sure if I buy into those studies or not. I just don't like red that much so I use "prettier" or colors that reflect the season, like green around Christmas, orange or purple around Halloween, pinks for spring, etc.


Debbie:
I use many different colors: purple, green, pink, red, lime green, turquoise, blue, orange... When I tutor, sometimes, my students get to choose the color I use.


Joy:
Is it associated with negativity because it has been used for so long? How long before blue/green/yellow is damaging?


Ghoufraan:
Well eventually any color that you use a lot to correct their mistakes will be a taboo!!


Paola:
I use any pen, any color as long as its a different color than what the student is using. Sometimes I even use highlighters, those are my fav!


Ann:
I use a different colour every day - very handy when you are marking contracts to see how much is actually done each day :)


Shirley:
I agree with this. I have always used green.


Paola:
I dont think its the color, I think its more of what you do to the paper that gives it negativity. Writing POOR WORK is negative in any color. Dont you think?


Cassidi:
Good grief, that is silly. Red is used because it is easier to see among the other markings on the paper. If you focus so much on the possible hurt feelings you miss the bigger picture - the whole point is to correct their mistakes. Correction is not a BAD thing. Isn't the point of education to educate?


Melissa:
Zoe uses a pencil to do her work, so I just erase it and I give her the opportunity to correct her mistakes.


Paul:
No wonder kids today are on unnecessary meds. We give them every disorder we can think of, when all they are is normal.


Valerie:
I try to vary the colors (seasonally) purple (spring), green in Marc,h Brown in November, etc.


Alysha:
I call hogwash on all of these studies that leave the impression that children are so fragile that a red mark on a paper can be damaging. Let them be disappointed when they see a mistake corrected. School really doesn't prepare kids for real life anymore (if it ever did).


JoAnn:
I use any marker that is not dried up. :)


Rebecca:
Complete hogwash!! Red is my sons favorite color, we school at home and I grade with red, no ill-effects :)


Michelle:
Hanavan How fragile do people think kids are? Seriously, we have to 'protect' them from red ink? Really?!?!


Karen:
Liz, you know my history with Math. When I'd get my test paper back all marked up with red ink and X's and ugly comments, I felt completely dejected and to be honest, retarded. I hated red ink!!


Therese:
If you point it out as a negative then the association with red and negative will be made. I use whatever color I have, I don't make a x I circle the wrong answer and review it with my child! So its a learning experiance to correct the problem without a negative association to getting it wrong.


Penny:
I use red all the time because it sticks out. I write positive comments, suggestions, and mark errors. We use red color coding on the write board to help make things stand out. My students see my writing in red all the time and it does not seem to bother them.


Rebecca:
Hogwash! I have even been told to stop using red ink. I use all colors blue, green, black, orange, and red.


Stephanie:
My college professor told the class this concept of red being negative. Even though I am not totally convinced that papers being checked in red will affect children negatively, I always check in purple, green, gold, or pink. The kids think those colors are far more fun than red anyways!


Tiffany:
I use crayola markers. I use all the colors, and sometimes I mix colors. I tend to gravitate toward green because it is my favorite color. But honestly, I teach 5th grade and I don't think red = negative. (My students hate red because BYU is BLUE and the University of Utah is red.)


Kay:
Whatever color pen I can find that shows up! Pink, Red, Purple.....


Shannon:
I think it's true. My husband hates red pens, it stresses him, and it's connected to his days in school. Oh, I usually use blue and make smiley faces. : )


Reina:
Negativity is associated with negativity... Please!!! Ridiculous... How did any of us survive?


Rachael:
We were recently told to avoid red because of the old stigma...that makes me just want to select RED every time now!! Otherwise you gravitate to purple...but have lots of colors on hand. Seriously...kids are too babied now days.


Kristy:
Isn't that ok to associate WRONG answers with NEGATIVITY? I mean, they ARE wrong.... Not sure I get this.


Profesora:
Any correction can cause a bit of stress in students because you're pointing somthing they did wrong. If you ask me...I prefer red, it stands out because when students see their corrected work they dont pay attention to the correction UNLESS that correction is made in red.


Celia:
The new headmaster I work for has brought this rule into our high school. Red is not allowed for marking, only green, and only positive comments to be given. I agree with this.


Kim:
I use whatever color I have available. I have never thought anything negative about using red to grade papers!! Especially in the lower grades. (I teach first.)



Jane:
I think it is just another excuse to let kids who don't try hard enough off the hook.


Patty:
I agree with Jane, its just another excuse to let kids who dont try hard enough off the hook.


Maria:
Hogwash... but I like to change it up. I don't use blue or black pen though-too hard to see. I like to use ultra thin Sharpies in various fun colors.



Gayle:
Hogwash! Though I do prefer to use sparkly ink. The girls especially like sparkly pink. I guess it's like Mary poplins said, "A spoon full of sugar helps the medicine go down."



Iryna:
I like to use all colors, but I mostly use purple. It's been a long time since I've used red and that's because I saw a fellow colleague using a green pen.


Anthony:
I haven't really thought about it. Wow! I'm into building up not tearing down. I use your site for use in my home. I see work from my kids that is marked in red. As a former parapro, must admit that I have used the "Red Pen of Shame."


Lee:
Wow, what a lot of hogwash. Red never harmed me when i was a child, through out my schooling I had to use blue or red to mark my work. Homeschooling we use red, blue, green, and pencil. I use what ever colour is at hand.


Tee Nah:
No...what is damaging is that when we listen to studies like this and coddle children....the most resilient creatures on the face of the earth, we set them up for failure when entering the real world. I use whatever is near, usually pink or purple bc I like those colors. Or, orange bc it is our school color. I use bright colors, INCLUDING RED because it is noticeable and not black like the ink it's typed in. NOT bc I want to damage a child's psyche. Geez....


Amy:
I use red. It is the only color my children cannot use so we can tell who the marks belong to. And bc it's noticeable to which ones are wrong. Still keep it positive and give stickers no matter how many they got wrong.


Jaclyn:
I grade in purple most of the time, and occasionally in blue, green, and pink. But tests are almost always graded in red, to mark how serious tests are. I completely agree with this study. when I was a kid I dreaded the color red, and I still do not like it.


Darrin:
I use RED for everything! The kids know that is MY color - and I mark, edit, revise, write notes to parents, write positive comments, warts and all in RED!


Sharise:
I don't believe the hype. I use whatever colors are available to me. My focus is on teaching strategies and making sure my kids get it. Who cares about color?


Iris:
RED.... it's fab! Does not cause any distress. Half of the kids don't even look at the corrections!


Zonieke:
I use a variety of colors....Red is a last resort, but I do use it from time to time. As one stated earlier, an F is an F no matter what color it's in!


Larisa:
Ohhh for goodness sakes ! I just wish I could get paid for some idiotic study on the detriment of the color of ink on our poor students psyche's ! I Love Red ! and I do use it to grade my students papers. I had many a teacher ( beloved, and otherwise ) " bleed" on my papers; from Elementary school through College. Long live Red ink And Red pens!


Fai:
Hahahahaha....Lol.....whoever said that needs to go around the world where I came from. Teachers have used red pens way back when. Up till now it hasn't done a negative thing to anyone. Stop using emotion to sell stuff and especially to mislead people.


Hilda:
I think it is absolute hogwash! I use what ever color pen I happen to have handy. I try to use bright colors so that kids can easily see their mistakes especially if I want them to make corrections.


Caroline:
I use any colour as well as red :) I teach grade one so when marking maths if the answer is wrong I don't put a cross I put a dot with a box next to it for filling in the correct answer - works bvery well!!! Mistakes are there for us to learn from :)