Forgive me as I hop up on my soapbox briefly, but, a friend reminded me of my biggest pet peeve the other day--red ink. The ink itself is not the problem. It's this idea that if we use red ink, our children will be scarred! Scarred, I tell you!

I have a friend who taught first grade, and he was told that if a child got the sounds of a word right on a spelling test (as opposed to, you know, the actual spelling), that it would count, and he should just write the correct spelling next to it. E.g., if the kid wrote "kat", points for effort. And I just...is teaching c-a-t really that hard? Will these children truly believe they're worthless just because they misspelled a word?

So I ask you--parents, writers, people who I assume came of age in a time of red pens and spelling tests that tested spelling--do you think we would have better, more confident, well-rounded children if they were rarely, if ever, corrected?

Now, I do mean just correction. Obviously telling a child he or she is stupid isn't helping anyone. But I find it hard to believe that telling a child he or she can do no wrong is any better. Part of my job is to criticize--am I ruining authors' self esteem??

8 Comments:

Blogger B.E. Sanderson said:

I think it's better to let children know where they're making mistakes so they can correct them, then to build up their self-esteem on clouds and sand. Someday those clouds are going to evaporate and the sand will wash away. Then where will these kids be? Let a child know they've done something wrong, and then show them how to fix it, and it's the greatest accomplishment. Teach them ignorance is a learning opportunity, and red ink is just there to show them how to improve.

And the same goes for authors. ;o)

8:32 AM  

Blogger Maggie said:

Correct them. Early. Otherwise they won't realize how important it is to spell correctly and use proper grammar until far too late--if ever. I teach college students and some of the spelling and grammar I get in my classes is appalling. I had one student perpetually spell "on" as "own" all semester. Despite correction. Gah!

They didn't correct us going through school about spelling and grammar and they put all their faith in phonics. They thought it would damage our self esteem and creativity. I tell you it was a much bigger blow to self esteem to get to the 9th grade honors English class and have my butt kicked because I didn't know all this stuff yet (neither did anyone else).

9:39 AM  

Blogger Mary Castillo said:

As a parent, I'm critiquing my son all the time. But one of my proudest moments - and those are rare when you're a mom - is when my mom told me, "Gee, you sure tell him 'good job' alot."

So I think its so important to tell a kid when they're doing a great job and when they could do better. Telling someone they're stupid stays with them forever, no matter what they achieve that proves otherwise.

As an author, my work would be so-so without the input and guidance from my editors. Perhaps some authors do really well on their own. But I've always felt very proud of my work when I've risen to my editors' challenge.

Mary C.

4:21 PM  

Blogger Miss Trashahassee said:

Oh, oh, oh!

Let them young'uns know they done wrong and correct 'em and all, but be lovin' and nice (until you hafta git ugly and mean) about it.

Otherwise the whole next generation of young'uns is gonna be worthless: like a bunch of Paris Hiltons runnin' amock!

Scary thought, eh?

BFF,

Miss T

7:11 PM  

Blogger ShanaGalen said:

Oh, good Lord! This reminds me of a story I heard on NPR the other day about how Generation Y is having so many problems in the workforce because they need constant praise. We all like praise, but it's meaningless unless it's earned. use the red ink, Esi. Your authors will be better for it.

9:46 AM  

Blogger Cattiva said:

I think the current state of our society screams the answer to your question. Children have been coddled and protected so much that their role models are people like Paris and Lindsey and other pathetic beings.

Bring back the red pen. And while we're at it, bring back the "F" for failure, too. What's up with this "E" junk?

4:24 PM  

Blogger Kristin said:

The problem with not correcting when children make mistakes is that those who DO correctly spell things and DO take the time to learn will feel like it is not worth the effort.

If Johnny can spell cat K-A-T, then why did I just learn how to spell it right? What possible motivation do I have now for paying attention and learning the right answers when EVERY answer is right?

Competition exists in the world, and schools are trying to drive it right out. What happens when the kids grow up and realize they actually have to perform and compete amongst each other for jobs?

Drives me batty what they are doing to today's kids.

9:20 AM  

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