Economics and the mid-life crisis have much in common: Both dwell on foregone opportunities

C'est la vie; c'est la guerre; c'est la pomme de terre . . . . . . . . . . . . . email: jpalmer at uwo dot ca

. . . . . . . . . . .Richard Posner should be awarded the next Nobel Prize in Economics . . . . . . . . . . . .

Friday, April 22, 2005

Why I Use Purple Pens

George Will takes note of several different articles about the growing use of purple pens by teachers, instead of the traditional red pens or pencils, to grade tests and assignments.

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?

A sure sign that purple is becoming more popular: Cross markets a purple refill (for their Ion pen), and other refills are also available in purple as well.

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