Unlearning What They Done Learned Me in School

One of my (many) leftover hangups from grade school is a terror of red ink. Something about those pencils they used to give us. A shuffle of papers later, and you’re grading somebody else’s work and hoping against hope that you don’t have to flunk anyone, and that you didn’t do anything too humiliating, yourself.

So, I don’t edit in red ink. I’ve actually heard that teachers have taken up correcting papers in non-red colors, because it’s less traumatic. (No, sweetie. They’re not traumatized by red ink, itself. They’re traumatized by you.)

I also write in pencil or colored ink or… ya’know… my own blood… because I’ve been trained to take those things a lot less seriously than blue or black ink. Blue or black ink is the domain of very, very carefully re-copying your work so that it will be perfect when you turn it in.

I spent so much time doing this (because I never got to perfect) that one day in Junior High someone told me to make copies, and I sat down and copied the paper–by hand–five or six times so everyone could have a copy.

The response was horror. I meant… make copies in the office. On the Copying Machine.

That thought certainly never occurred to me.

To this day, I pick up a pen, and that same old perfectionism kicks in. Hello, inner editor.

The list goes on. Yellow or pink legal pads. Something with color to it. Blue. Green. Whatever. Never proper loose leaf paper. Still has to be college ruled, though, because the wide ruled reminds me of remedial classes, and makes me doubt myself. (No, really. It’s very simple. The less space between the lines on your paper, the smarter you are. That’s the rule, and it’s in my head.)

Lets just call them “quirks.”

What about you? Any school-based peccadilloes?


  1. Reply

    I’m thinking you went to school in America, as you mentioned ‘Grade school’? I had the same experience in UK;I know exactly what you’re talking about, and yes, close-lined paper is for the more intelligent :D. Or I sometime use unlined books; can scribble whichever way I like then – see me thumbing my nose at the establishment!
    However, I do wonder if we should go back to the red pen horror, kids today have it too easy 😀 😀

    • Reply

      I think–in the US, anyway–the focus has shifted from the narrow-lined kids to more of a triage approach. It seems ridiculously easy to those of us who were expected to do great things, when we were in school, because it isn’t **about** us, anymore. I suspect the kids it’s being built around feel challenged, but at the same time, we’re developing an education and intellectualism as the ONLY way to respect mentality.

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