Does Pink Ink Positively Reinforce Your Message?

red ink too aggressive


This color controversy goes all the way back to 2011 when The Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills (Ofsted), which is a non-ministerial department of the UK government, issued a guide citing teacher’s use of red ink as damaging to students because the color is too aggressive and makes students feel like failures.

Several color policies ensued. Some of them very detailed like asking teachers to write corrections in green and then outline them in pink. Other policies are more broad like asking teachers to switch from aggressive red to gentler pink. The theory being “gentle” bright pink ink is ideal for delivering corrections so students can focus on the feedback from the teacher without first feeling assaulted by a swath of red ink.

As you can imagine, all this color-coding resulted in a lot of extra work for already time-strapped teachers. Teachers who are already trying to trim administrative minutia so they can spend time one on one with their students.

Red ink does indeed send a strong message to students. Sending a message and getting attention is what the color red does best. Whether it’s powerful enough to cause a student to feel like a failure is up for debate.

I think teachers should be allowed to use whatever color ink they want to mark papers. If they want to incorporate a color-coded system to how they provide feedback to their students, then they should be allowed to structure it how they want. Requiring teachers to follow complex policies about what color ink to use and when is taking the influence of color too far.

According to this March 28, 2016 article by By Alana Moorehead “education secretary Nicky Morgan is not in favor of these extra marking requirements and is working on ways to help reduce teacher workload.”

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