Royally wrong

Purple is replacing red as the color of correction, according to this Boston Globe story. Red is too associated with wrongness. Green and yellow don’t offer enough contrast. Orange is too close to red. Purple is “friendlier.” So pen makers are boosting production of purple pens and office supply stores are thinking purple.

A mix of red and blue, the color purple embodies red’s sense of authority but also blue’s association with serenity, making it a less negative and more constructive color for correcting student papers, color psychologists said. Purple calls attention to itself without being too aggressive. And because the color is linked to creativity and royalty, it is also more encouraging to students.

“The concept of purple as a replacement for red is a pretty good idea,” said Leatrice Eiseman, director of the Pantone Color Institute in Carlstadt, N.J., and author of five books on color. “You soften the blow of red. Red is a bit over-the-top in its aggression.”

The Globe quotes an immigrant mother who’s taking English classes. Victoria Nedruban stands up for red.

“I hate red,” she said. “But because I hate it, I want to work harder to make sure there isn’t any red on my papers.”

Apparently, she hasn’t assimilated 21st century American values.

Via Cris Simpson and The Corner.

About Joanne

Comments

  1. Bill Leonard says:

    Does anyone take any of this sort of thing seriously? Sadly, far too many people in positions of immeditate authority (read: teachers)do.

    The examples abound. Many are revealed on this site.

    …And my friends wonder why I increasingly feel alienated, as if this is no longer my country (and in many regions, it is not.)

  2. “Red is too associated with wrongness. Green and yellow don’t offer enough contrast. Orange is too close to red. Purple is ‘friendlier.’ So pen makers are boosting production of purple pens and office supply stores are thinking purple.”

    Isn’t anyone going to stick up for poor, marginalized indigo? After all, it has associations with South Asian vegetable dyes, so it recalls the thrift and nobility of the time-honored household labor of women of color. It’s organic and cruelty-free, too.

  3. mike from oregon says:

    Well, heck, they’ve finally figured out what has been wrong with their teaching methods after these 200+ years of public education. This whole time, they’ve been grading papers in the wrong color ink. Boy, I’m sure glad they finally figured it out, from here on out, no more discipline problems, they will all (obviously) be reading 2 grade levels ahead of thier grade and you won’t be able to sneak a math problem past them. Now we can start working on curing the common cold.

  4. mike from oregon says:

    This one spun me up enough that I followed the link and read the actual story. Allow me to quote from it (cause it’s a beauty) – “But aside from avoiding red, Hanley said she is not sure color matters much. At times, she uses sticky notes rather than writing on a child’s paper. What’s important, she said, is to focus on how an assignment can be improved rather than on what is wrong with it, she said.”

    Oh yeah, this one’s a keeper. Lemme think a minute, if I don’t know what is wrong, how am I suppose to figure out how to improve it? I mean, doesn’t one basically, imply the other? And, yeah, I really like the ‘sticky note’ idea, they fall off REAL good, so by the time the kid brings the paper home he’s not sure of the grade nor what the teacher said could be done to ‘improve’ it cause the dang sticky note fell off and got lost.

    Where are the parents??? Doesn’t anybody go down and rattle some cages? Aaaarrrrrghhhhhhh!!!!!!

  5. In Byzantium, only the Celestial King and the Emperor (God’s Lieutenant on earth) could sign edicts in purple ink.
    Now it’s clear how these teachers see themselves.

  6. D Anghelone says:

    Red is too associated with wrongness.

    Red is a bit over-the-top in its aggression.

    The history of the 20th Century.

  7. Mad Scientist says:

    Just use my favorite color: clear.

    Then we will live in a world where everything is rite.

  8. Red is also the color of evil baby-eating Republicans. Purple, while contaminated by the presence of evil red, mostly looks like the color of decent, honest people. Namely, blue.

    Silly? Maybe, but a hundred sillier things happen every day.

  9. Let’s call a Red a Red. When some politically correct imbecile decided to call Republican states red and Democratic states blue, it was certainly disingenuous. How long is it going to take to get the appropriate reversal here?

    Now that red is going to be a “friendlier” color, I wonder if there is an agenda here. If so, I suspect the reversal isn’t too far away.

  10. Ah, so this explains why one of the GTA supervisors brought back purple ball point pens for all of the second year masters student GTAs! Personally, I comment in the margins in pencil. Easier to erase–or add to–when you’re grading when punch-drunk tired.

  11. Richard Brandshaft says:

    What beats red-vs.-purple for sheer silliness? How easy it is for conservatives to get hysterical about such trivia. Of course, the teachers had Byzantium in mind. That explains it.

  12. Sigh. This idea has been around for years. Yes, it’s silly.

  13. I use red pens to correct my college students’ English papers for the simple reason that the color contrast makes the corrections easier to see, especially commas and periods. However, another professor saw me grading one day and looked at me like I was an ogre: “You use RED???” Sigh.

  14. Mad Scientist says:

    Hell, I had a professor who actually drew a skull and crossbones whenever you used a phrase like “Due to the fact that….”.

    Oh yeah, and it was in RED.

  15. Tim from Texas says:

    It’s the teachers who hate seeing red ink and all of it’s connotations, not the students. Look at the numbers involved. An individual student sees in a single class say an average of 3 graded papers/tests etc a week. How many does the teacher of 125 students see?

    This is a serious matter. For reasons self imposed, and imposed by our system such as too many progress reports and the like, teachers spend far too much time grading and not enough time on the other processes, methods and sequences.

  16. on one paper i wrote years ago, a TA wrote “THIS IS SHIT!!” in huge green magic marker letters on the first page. maybe he used the green to soften the blow.

  17. Sometimes I think the biggest problem in the education system is the neuroses of the people who work in it.

  18. I use red, green, and purple – whatever I can find. And to mark errors I use a number code with a key and I make students refer to the key to *correct the errors themselves*. If I don’t make them work through the revising process, the kids rely too heavily on me to make ALL corrections, including basic things like titles and names.

    If they know I’ll send the paper back and that they’ll actually have to (gasp) proofread, they’re more likely to edit it the first time.

  19. A since-retired colleague was once asked by a student, “Why did you give me an F?” He replied, “Because the Board of Regents wouldn’t let me give you a G.”

  20. Perhaps we should change all the traffic lights so that “red” is some color that will traumatize people less…..

  21. Just look at the second page of the article. That’s not purple, it’s “blue.” Which is exactly why I will continue to make my students’ and colleagues’ eyes bleed. The whole point of marking up a paper, report, proposal, memo, etc is so that the person can see your comments. Purple just won’t swing it.

    Plus, those of us who are diehard fans of the red pen, need only wait until the faint of heart get tired of purple. Then we’ll be the alpha-males of pedagogical fashion once again.

  22. Uh . . . if it’s bad to point out “wrongness” with red ink, then why is it good to administer “correction” with a purple one?

  23. All I can add to this is that all the top notch teachers I had used red. This included my music theory prof., who is one of the kindest people you’ll ever meet.

  24. Hilarious. This came up in the spring for me. My team of second grade teachers was talking, and one of them said, “Gosh, I NEVER use red.” One other agreed, and I kept my mouth shut. I mean, please, people. Now that I’m reading more from teachers, I think I’ll take a stand for red in the future. And that is really, really sad that it even needs to be said.

  25. This kind of silliness being taken seriously by supposedly-educated professionals captures the essence of what is wrong with our public schools today.

    Teachers worrying about ‘red vs purple’ pens for grading are either total idiots who should be fired for incompetence. And any administrator who tolerates this kind of foolishness should be thrown out the door first.

  26. After all, it has associations with South Asian vegetable dyes so it recalls the thrift and nobility of the time-honored household labor of women of color. It’s organic and cruelty-free, too.

  27. good place

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    Royally wrong On Joanne Jacobs:Purple is replacing red as the color of correction, according to this Boston Globe story. Red is too associated with wrongness. Green and yellow don’t offer enough contrast. Orange is too close to red. Purple is…