Written By Galen White
For many years, I didn’t know there were ink pens containin’ any ink other than red. Now, you may find that somewhat odd, or perhaps, extremely odd. But you gotta understand the reason for my lack of knowledge.
You see, the twelve, long, agonizin’, and difficult years I spent attending Athens High School contained more tests and quizzes than I’d like to remember. You know how it was; the teacher would tell you to study chapter one, overnight and the next day she’d grade it, and then she’d give it back to you. Well, might’ near every one of my tests had big, shiny red ink marks all over it when I got it back. Took me a long time to learn ink pens also wrote in blue and black.
At first, I thought I was somethin’ special since none of my classmate’s returned tests had near ’bout as many red x’s as mine. Shoot! I figured I was the teacher’s pet. Unfortunately, I soon discovered that when it came to ol’ Galen, there was an “s” in pet…….., as in teacher’s peSt!
At the time, that was okay by me as I learned to live with it. Can’t say the same for some of the teachers, though. A few of ’em had a very difficult time livin’ with that fact. Most fought back; sadly, one or two gave up. Bein’ the nice guy I am, however, I sent them sympathy cards to those who went on to greener pastures.
You know, it seemed to me my folks weren’t overjoyed with red ink, either. I came to find out it wasn’t the color of the ink, but what the red ink represented that upset their apple cart. ‘Bout the only thing I can say is that the red ink on my test papers matched the red shine on my behind after my folks finished “explainin” things to me.
Anyway, I heard on the news this morning that there’s a move on to stop teachers from using red ink to mark a student’s test paper. Apparently, seein’ the red ink marks lowers the student’s self esteem. Well, I don’t know about that, but as I insinuated above, the red ink lowered my britches a time or two.
I can’t help but remember how I felt when it finally sank in that the red marks were not somethin’ to be proud of. In fact, I found so many red marks to be quite embarrassin’. The good thing was that it made me want to do better. Didn’t make me want to study any harder, but I wanted better grades.
Studyin’ was somethin’ that I absolutely hated to do. But even with my thick skull, I soon realized I’d have to buckle down and apply myself if I wanted to make better grades and have blue check marks on my papers like so many of the other students.
Those red mars didn’t lower my self esteem. No, sir! I was still just as cocky as a bantam rooster. I continued to have fun with my fellow classmates; I continued to go out on dates; I continued to give the teachers fits on occasion; and the sun came up the next mornin”. So my self esteem wasn’t damaged in the least bit. Sure, it may have hurt a bid to sit down, but that was all that was damaged.
I honestly regret that I didn’t study harder. Had I done so, I might be quite a bid smarter’n I am today. But claimin’ that markin’ an incorrect answer in red ink is devastatin’ to one’s ego or self esteem seems quite a stretch to me.
Isn’t makin’ mistakes part of growin’ up? Don’t you have to fall off a bike in order to learn how to ride it? Isn’t the best teacher experience? How do you gain experience if you don’t suffer the consequences of failure? Heck! Can you even be successful if you don’t risk failure?
Just so you’ll know, Einstein, failure ain’t the end of the world either. I’m livin’ proof. Although I’m not the most intelligent or most successful guy you’ll meet. I have faced some adversity. At times, I laughed in its face. Other times were not so easy and I ended up cryin’.
The point is that if you fail there are two things you can do. One, you can help yourself out of the hole, or , two, you stay in the hole and rot. It’s your choice. Don’t let a red ink stain on your life’s slate be the determinin’ factor of whether you are successful or not. Use it as an incentive to do better.
Sympathy is great. Compassion, too. But what kind of leaders will we have if there is no one who knows how to handle adversity?
Galen White has written articles for several papers in North Louisiana and is now retired.