View Full Version : No more red pens?
05-06-2005, 09:00 PM
I came across a news release a few weeks ago that told of how several school districts have either banned or strongly discouraged the use of red pens by teachers for marking students' papers. Apparently, seeing red marks on their papers is too stressful for children.
I guess I'm just way out of step with the times, 'cause it seems to me that experiencing a little stress when you get something wrong is the best way to motivate you to do it differently the next time.
When I first heard this, I had a heck of a time trying to get my head around it. I've got a pretty strong background in psychology and human development, and the way I understand it, if someone gets the same feedback whether they do A or whether they do B, they're not likely to develop a preference for doing A over doing B. So if A is correct and B is erroneous, then it would follow that there would be no motivation for doing what is correct rather than what isn't.
Now, if we apply that thought to woodworking - suppose you were taking a woodworking class and were making a picture frame. Take it a step further and suppose that you cut your miters at 44.8 degrees. Not wanting to cause you any stress, you're instructor smiles and tells you that's not exactly right, but don't feel bad about it - it's okay to be wrong. What is the logical conclusion for that kind of "teaching"?
I know this example is a little far-fetched, but I think we've taken concerns for children's self-esteem to the point where methods have become ludicrous.
Call me a dinosaur, but if I were a teacher correcting papers, I'd darn well use that red pen!
"How wrong it is for a woman to expect the man to build the world she wants, rather than to create it herself."
- Anais Nin (1903-1977)
05-06-2005, 09:14 PM
I wonder what happens if you give the kids red pens to do the actual asignment with?
Dear god, there would be chaos!
05-06-2005, 09:26 PM
Sorry but I cannot give my view without violating Policical Incorretness.
Erin, YOUR not a dinosaur, Its just that the new wave of leaders has gotten very far off kilter.
I will use a red pen. What happend when those soft students gets into a job where their boss uses a FAT red pen.
05-06-2005, 09:57 PM
Good greif... another generation of pansies.
When I was in middle school my science teacher had a phone booth in the back of his classroom, no joke. He would often openly ridicul us for making mistakes, failure would often lead to a "time-out" in the booth. End result we all WANTED to do better. And we did.
If this were to happen today the teacher would be sued and we would see him on CNN for misconduct or something.
Stop protecting your kids so much, it makes them weak.
05-06-2005, 11:20 PM
I am a failure of the American Education system. I have been successful in my life's endeavors in spite of the education that I received. No, I will never be president but I like to think that I am smart enough to know that I do NOT to want to be president.
As for the red pens, I can understand the point of the school but I do not agree with their position. Students need both criticism AND encouragement.
When looking back at my education during my "formative" years.
What is the quickest way to discourage children from reading? Make them do a book report on the books they read. It took me a couple of months to read the book for the book report but I used that book to hide the six or eight other books I read in the same time. Then my third grade teacher took one of the third grade class library books away from me just as I got to the last chapter. (The book was, 'A Tree Grows in Brooklyn'.) I thought that she was going to have a heart attack on the spot. I am a failure.
How do you discourage students from doing their best? Parent, "If you can get an "A" in this class, why did you only get a "B" in these classes? No more television for you, you're going to study all evening." I never got another "A", intentionally. I am a failure.
"Well Richard, what are your career plans when you get out of school?" "Mrs. Algebra Teacher, I would like to be an electrician." "NO! You most certainly will not! You want to be an Electrical ENGINEER." Well I am a much better woodworker than I ever was as an engineer. I am a failure.
The spell check in Microsoft Word has taught me more spelling and grammar than all of elementary school. Well, maybe I am not a total failure.
Then, some 40 years later, in class, I cut the miters at 44.8 degrees. Then the instructor, Bob, shows me that if we clamp with a lot of glue and use the handle of a steel handle hammer to burnish the edge of the miter over so that the gap doesn't show. Well, what do you know; maybe I am not a failure after all. It took me 61 plus years to understand that.
With apologies to educators everywhere and noting that, I have a very dim view of the American Education system.
With the exception of the instructor or teacher that refuses to allow a student to falter but rather works to make the student make themselves successful; to the rest of you. Y'all need to go back to the school of life.
Bring on them 44.8 degree miters, I am ready for them!
05-09-2005, 01:14 AM
I was going to add to this thread, but instead I just got mad at the whole politically correct, nobody loses/everybody wins idea.
05-09-2005, 07:37 AM
You seem to be expressing just the opposite of what many of my generation have expressed about the incentives they were given by teachers and counselors. My wife, for example, was told that she needed to forget about going to college and find some sort of other less advanced education to follow, Beauty School, for example, to support herself until she could find a husband to take over that task. Well, that's what she did and 20 something years later decided, partly due to my encouragement, she went back to school. Yep College. And graduated with a 3.8 something GPA. Kicked my butt.
It seems to me that the fix for some real, as well as percieved, problems of the past have created a swing well to the other side of the spectrum. While constant humiliation is a bad thing, the push by many who have been charged with the direction of both education and rearing of children has been taken to the opposite extreme. The self esteem of the child has taken over as the primary concern while learning has been relegated to the back seat. Add to that, schools have had so many of what, in the past, were parental responsibilities heaped upon them. No longer are Reading, Writing and Arithmetic the basis of education. This has been brought about by social issues which need to be addressed elsewhere and with somewhat different answers than, it seems, we are willing to be subjected to.
Positive reinforcement is a good thing, but to dispense accolades for less than positive production cheapens the value of the positive reinforcement. What incentive does someone have to provide a better, or even the correct answer, if they are given either nuetral or even positive reinforcement for wrong answers? How far along in their life do they have to be before they are told the 2+2=4, not 5? And when they are finally told of their misconception, what will it do to their self esteem then?
You can not give someone self esteem, they must earn it. Otherwise, what they have is an over inflated ego that at some point will be deflated quite rapidly, probably causing the same results, or worse, than what the feel gooders were trying to prevent in the first place.
05-09-2005, 08:31 AM
After days of following this thread, I'm trying to find a way to fit in a pun about it being a red letter day, but it's just not working. Oh,well! Pastor Paul gets stumped for once. :)
"If they don't have woodworking in heaven, I ain't going!!!"
05-09-2005, 03:59 PM
Have you ever gotten an "A" on a test and then been told by the teacher that your work was terrible? Then have to spend recess rewriting the test because your penmanship wasn't PERFECT? (I don't mean legible vs. illegible, I mean PERFECT. When I put an 'Over See' over the writing, the writing was expected to conform perfectly.)
In the first 8 grades I don't ever remember being encouraged for anything. It was always, 'You're going to do this or I'm going to get you.' I'm sorry, but I guess that the NYC Board of Education and I will ever see eye to eye. By high school I had such a sour viewpoint that it is amazing that I even graduated. I'm not sure what all really motivated me but in part was fear of my father.
It took me a very long time to figure out that I wasn't really a failure and that maybe I could be successful. By the time that I figured that out, it was just not practical for me to continue my education and obtain a degree. (No fault but my own.) However in the last 10 years or so, I've found that I can go back and pick up a few college classes here and there. Amazingly, learning is really fun. I've taken classes mainly because I don't really like television. I have a heck of a lot more fun in school than vegitating in front of the tube.
It wasn't until Bob taught me how to take that FUBAR miter (Joining a face frame and raised panel cabinet side.) and make it look great, the realization of what it was all about hit me. Darn it! I was almost sixty one years old at the time. I'm almost ashamed to admit that the 8 years in the NYC school system had my mind so screwed up for all those years. Heck, now I CAN DO ALMOST ANYTHING IN SPITE OF IT ALL!
Now I'm comfortably retired and doing a lot of the things that I should have been doing for the last 40 or so years. Maybe it's better this way because I'm having fun. And the past, well that's water over the bridge and water under the dam. I rarely even think about it any more until something about our education system rears its ugly head.
"You can not give someone self esteem, they must earn it."
That statement is absolutely true! Unfortunately, an authority figure can destroy that self esteem in minutes that will take years for the individual to rebuild.
05-09-2005, 06:41 PM
I think there are two problems with the school system:
1. The parents.
2. School administrators
Parents are terrifically involved in their child's learning through about the 5th-6th grade. Then they start focusing on the social aspect of school--sports, cheer leading, clubs, etc. Why aren't you guys down at the schoolhouse insisting on better academic standards? What happened to the PTA at the mid-school and high school level? You parents need to get crackingat those levels just like you do in elementary school.
And the first thing you can get cracking on is this concept:
Administrators have sold us on this notion that math teachers are experts in math, science teachers are expert in science, etc. and can do a better job than general purpose teachers. So when your child gets to 6th or 7th grade, you no longer have ONE teacher responsible for your kid that you can go talk to--you have a bunch who have to deal with 150-200 students spread over a day rather than 25 students all day that they can get to know. No ONE is accountable -- no ONE is responsible.
My wife was an elementary school teacher for 25 years and I can assure you she did NOT go to school each day thinking about sitting around and making big bucks for doing nothing (Snort! My son is a cement finisher and at 25 he was making $5,000 a year more than my wife a 20-year teacher at that point) And I can assure you they don't go to school thinking how can I screw up some kid's life.
I tracked how much she spent out of her own pocket and she was throwing $3,000 - $4,000 into the school system every year. Don't anybody tell me about how it's deductible -- *IF* we could crack the 2% limit on Schedule A miscellaneous deductions we got a few bucks back, like ten cents on the dollar, maybe. And don't tell me about all that time off in the summer--it's about 8-9 weeks and you have to go to "in-services" and planning sessions and volunteer to work on text book selection committees (and then the administrators buy whatever book they want and thank the teachers for "helping and participating".
I am so glad and so sorry that she is out of it now. Sorry becausae she was/is the best--we need teachers like her. And glad because who needs the kind of BS that teachers have to put up with? I had a great job making good bucks and I was glad that when the opportunity came we could both jump ship.
Just to sum up -- there's not a problem with the kids -- you guys are making them just as good as ever. There is not a problem with the teachers. They're there to teach, they want the kids to learn. There is tremendous satisfaction in watching little light bulbs come on or helping someone discover where their real talent lies and I suspect some teachers might really like having all those little faces think they're wonderful.
Only two groups left: parents and administrators....
05-10-2005, 06:21 PM
"Administrators have sold us on this notion that math teachers are experts in math, science teachers are expert in science, etc. and can do a better job than general purpose teachers."
In my observations of industrial training, experts in their field are usually poor instructors. The really, really great instructors are former teachers that were taught the subject that they are now instructing. If you want a GREAT class in an industrial setting, find one that is being taught by a former teacher.
The worst classes that I've ever had were the ones taught by the 'Development Team' members.
05-10-2005, 07:21 PM
>The worst classes that I've ever had were the ones taught by
>the 'Development Team' members.
Right on -- been there and done that from both sides. Hated it the whole way whether I was in front or in back.
05-11-2005, 06:54 AM
Penmanship was always one of my worst subjects. Partly a function of a lack of artistic (for lack of a better word) and partly a function of my hands not being able to keep up with my brain when writing something. Smae thing happens here. Sometimes my brain gets way ahead of my typing fingers and I leave out letters or entire words.
I spent ever so many hours in elementary school working to get better at penmanship, with practically no improvement. I must also say that your experience in school sounds quite horrendous, and if that sort of system was the norm as opposed to being an exception, then I can easily understand why it was that so many of your generation left school without diplomas.
I think also that your more recent college experiences point toward something I've said for a long time, "College is wasted on the young." In most cases, anyway. Though I was oneof those kids on the "College" track in high school, that didn't pan out and so it was after military service before I finally started going to school. Even then, though I was more studious than the fresh out of HS bunch, the learning was far from fun and I mostly just went through the motions.
College was again interrupted and I didn't return till my late 30s and it was at that point that the actual learning became the thing instead of simply hurdling through the obstacle course to get to the finish line. Not only was I learning stuff, but also actually understanding it, and that is what is really important, I think.
While the methods under which you were taught were surely not a good thing, the swing in the opposite direction that has occurred is worse because I think these kids end up, once they discover that they have been given such a false impression of the themselves and the world, not only with emotional scars (not unlike your own) but also a lack of useful knowledge. At least you knew that 2+2=4, and it still does. How would it be to believe it was 5 for your entire developemental life only to find out in the real world that you had been wrong all that time and no one could even tell you?
05-11-2005, 07:15 AM
My wife's midlife decision to go to college was to become a teacher. Initially she had the idea that she wanted to teach elementary school. I did not really think she would be a good candidate for that but I kept quiet and early on she discovered that she much preferred literature and English to the psycho-babble being espewed as far as early learning. I was glad that she switched to English as a major with the intent of teaching High School. She is much better at relating to the ?more mature? kids of high school ages than the younger ones, at least in the long term.
She is now several years into her carreer as a teacher and I see her getting a bit more disgruntled each year, and it is not with the students, she loves them, and even the ones who seem to hate her come back a couple years after they've graduated and gone on to college and both thank her for cracking the whip and forcing them beyond what they thought they could do and to apologize for the troubles they gave her. They breeze through their first college level English classes because she has already taken them to that level in high school.
No, it is the two groups you speak of, admin and parents, who are causing more and more teachers to go sell furniture or something. Of course, the politicians have their part, too. Most teachers can put up with the shennanigans of the kids and the low pay because they are doing what they want to do. It is the admin BS and, thankfully a minority of the PITA parents wanting their child to be "given" special attention as well as special dispensation regardless of getting the child labeled with whatever is the latest designer learning "challenge". Most of these kids' biggest problem is their parent(s).