Profanity in the classroom questioned by many

Teachers are not all that much different from us. They were once students, they were teenagers and they have been through the same challenges and obstacles as current students, so usually, they cut us some slack. Now, it is our turn to return the favor.

Recently, a harsh video went viral–a teacher was caught cussing out one of his students. He threatened and insulted the student. This video not only caused a small social media riot but caused some conversation in the teaching world about the widely “unspoken rule” about refraining from cussing in front of students. Now, students are asking themselves the same question.

Teachers throughout our building have, at one time or another, used a so-called “inappropriate” word. Some of these slips happen by accident or in a moment of weakness, and sometimes more mild cuss words have been used for comic value. Students see these slips as happenings that humanize teachers. Swearing in front of a class is something most educators try to prevent, but based on the context for which the cuss word or words is used determines it appropriateness. Each circumstance can be quite different.

Those comical teachers may be doing it to make their class giggle a little. The use of curse words in this situation is solely for the purpose of being funny. It seems acceptable when the words have been used in a light-hearted manner.

Although, a fine line does exist between the use of these cuss words for comical emphasis (or used accidentally) and these inappropriate words being used to express anger towards a student.

This line is crossed when a student’s name is used in context with the unnecessary word or used to insult a student. Teachers are supposed to be role models to their students. Just like we have to respect them and refrain from using swear words at them, they should respect us just the same–even if they are the person in charge.

Neither the Student Code of Conduct nor the Employee Handbook outline anything about teacher’s behavior in class. While the Student Code of Conduct prohibits students from using “profane, obscene or vulgar language or gestures at school, on school buses or while engaged in or present at any school sponsored event or activity,” teachers have no restrictions to the language they use. We can assume that teachers refrain from cussing due to beliefs and values based in professionalism or fear of persecution from administration. held a survey called “Should teachers be allowed to swear at school?” Forty percent answered yes and sixty percent answered no.

Videos, just like the one that went viral, are of teachers using excessive profanity. They all have been gracing the Internet, from more cases in Chicago, IL to Memphis, TN. It seems that the condition of the schools and the attitude of the students, conditions that greatly differ from the high school’s, pushes these teachers into these rants. A obscene rant would be less expected and therefore more provocative from a teacher from the high school.

In 2012, people in the state of Arizona tried to pass a bill which would prohibit teachers, including college professors, from swearing in and outside of the classroom. This bill would have prevented students from learning certain literature because of vulgar language, such as “Huckleberry Finn” by Mark Twain, a book read by most high schoolers that many people note for its relative “excessive use of racial slurs.”

It seems as though the use of cuss words depends on the type of teacher and in the situation the words are used. For now, swear words do not seem to be a problem in our school.

Within this modern generation, swear words have increased in use by people ranging from children to adults. Profanity is a rising epidemic that fills classrooms with a new influence, but whether or not teachers use it is completely up to them.


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