Why I Use Purple Pens
Manufacturers of pens and markers report a surge in teachers' demands for purple ink pens. When marked in red, corrections of students' tests seem so awfully judgmental. At a Connecticut school, parents consider red markings "stressful." A Pittsburgh principal favors more "pleasant-feeling tones." An Alaska teacher says substituting purple for red is compassionate pedagogy, a shift from "Here's what you need to improve on" to "Here's what you have done right."I like to think of myself as a compassionate, caring-sharing type of person, but my use of purple pens has nothing to do with useless mamby-pampyisms about feel-good pedagogy.
I began using purple pens to grade exams and term papers many years ago. The reason was simple: students often used red, blue, black, and even green ink to write their answers and especially to draw graphs (with copious multi-colour line shifts). I wanted a colour that was different from theirs, and none of them used purple [even though one of the slogans at my institution is "Purple and Proud"].
How long will my purple pens be distinctive if more teachers are using purple in grade school and high school?