Friday, March 21, 2014

Do teachers have no respect for writers?

The Cornishman reports that Mounts Bay Academy has banned red markers. Red ink will be replaced with green to protect the self-esteem of delicate English children. (This is already a common practice in many American schools.)

Vice principal Jennie Hick told The Cornishman: “Switching to the new marking system is certainly not about us going all soft and fuzzy. Students make more progress if it is a dialogue and the new system is designed to help that. 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. I think it was felt that red ink was a very negative colour.”

Wow. I wonder if my editor understands that I would write so much better if she would use green ink and bracketed every correction with positive comments. Are teachers unaware how devastating it will be for aspiring writers to see their work critiqued for the first time as adults? Besides, do school administrators really believe kids can’t recognize a negative comment if camouflaged in green ink?

Nothing is more shocking to self-esteem than submitting written work to an editor.  Red ink abounds. I have learned more from editors than from classes, workshops, and how-to books. I also feel challenged to do as good of work as I am capable of prior to submittal. I would suggest future authors would benefit from unrestrained critiques presented in red ink.

On the other hand, I do like kind words.

1 comment:

  1. As a former writing teacher, I'd add that students are not aspiring writers and don't have the motivation to learn from an editor in the way you describe. Writing is a difficult skill to master. They are more likely to be discouraged than challenged by a barrage of criticism. BTW, I used black ink.