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The Tentacle


April 28, 2005

No More Red Ink

Jason Grabill

While perusing the paper a few days ago, I noted that touchy feely types with graying ponytails and fading "Kerry" stickers are now up in arms over yet another thing that makes our kids "feel bad." Yes, dear reader, it seems that red ink is causing your school age child undue stress and possible long term damage.

Red ink? Now, lest you think I've been sniffing Sharpie pens or some such, let me explain. It seems that teachers all over the country are in the habit of using red ink when they correct your child's papers.

This red ink, you understand, sticks out, and is easy to read. It also lets the little darlings know when they've made mistakes, need corrective help, or require Mom and Dad's (oops, sorry blue staters, 'parental unit') signature due to some error.

Well, it seems that the wonderful "we mustn't offend anyone" crowd has now decided that red ink is demeaning, debasing, causing some sort of damage, may inflict trauma, could cause cancer if eaten in large quantities, may cause temporary blindness, nausea, and being sent to one's room.

Therefore, red ink must be eliminated entirely from the teaching arsenal, lest we do any of the above to injure the poor little children, who after all, cannot possibly be exposed to the harsh realities of something called "the real world."

Also, I suspect, seeing red ink on their children's papers tends to remind liberals/progressives (or whatever Time magazine is calling them this week) of all those horrible "red" staters, who "gave" George Bush the presidency. And, we all know how sensitive the Democratic Party is nowadays about such things.

To investigate this matter further, I contacted an old high school pal. Sean is his name, and, in addition to having lots of pretty degrees on his walls, he's also a part time college professor. Now, lest anyone think less of Sean (or me, for associating with college professors), Sean is more a displaced farmer with a degree than anything else.

Anyway, he's one of the smartest folks I've ever known (why in the world he associates with me, I'll never know) with a good dose of common sense to boot. Here is the exchange; remember, Sean teaches at the community college level, not elementary school. To make matters worse, it's at one of the metro DC community colleges.

These students are at least 18 years old.

I had sent Sean a blurb on this red ink business, wanting to get his thoughts, and this was his reply:

"Yes! I particularly liked the part about education. No more red ink...Give me a break!!! Of course you must comment on what needs improving, but you also comment on what's good and right -- AT THE SAME TIME! It's called a balanced, comprehensive approach!

"I teach so many products of American high schools these days who simply can't take any criticism that it just makes me puke! And it's not just that they are sensitive; it's because they have NO CONCEPT of being told, 'Not good enough, but work on it and you can improve and do great!'

"Somehow they miss the affirmation in the second part of that statement but obsess only on the corrective criticism of the first part. And for all these years that we played tag or dodge ball when you WERE out, you were OUT, no do overs. How in the hell did the U.S. get to the top of the heap? Ah, well, maybe nowadays you can take your PTSD to some gov't agency and sob and get paid a living for feeling bad."

Of course, Sean is not your "average" ponytail wearing, hat-on-backwards college professor; nor is he the "Milton Milquetoast" cube dwelling type of my past rantings. He actually expects his students to learn, and in learning, one sometimes makes mistakes, which must be corrected.

I don't see how he does it; I'd be a rotten teacher, since the first time some little product of the latest rap video mouthed off to me, he or she would be eating the textbook, spine first. But, I'm kinda radical that way, I suppose.

Bottom line here, folks, is how in the world did we all manage to defeat Communism, have a vibrant economy, kick the crap out of ole Saddam (twice, now), and throw out the mad mullah's of Afghanistan?

All of this with our damaged psyche's from all that dodge ball, getting-picked-last-for-recess teams, and the soul-drowning red ink without seeing a shrink, or worrying about 'feeelings'.

We are no longer "raising" our children nowadays. It's more like pruning them, like delicate little hothouse flowers, because we all know that children can't possibly stand all that horrible criticism. Not when they can be sat in front of the glass teat and play mind-numbing video games.

No sir, anything else would cause irreparable damage.

Until next time, Stay Low!



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