Profanity and Language Play (Blog Post #1 of 3)

As a future educator do you believe profanity has a place in the classroom? Are there acceptable levels of profanity for the classroom? Have you ever experienced this either with other students or teachers? Please draw from personal experience to illustrate your point.

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22 Responses to Profanity and Language Play (Blog Post #1 of 3)

  1. KT@Pitt says:

    As a future elementary school teacher, I do not believe profanity has a place in the classroom. I see why Pinker slightly mocks the way our society reacts to swearing with things like The Clean Airwaves Act and Federal Communications Commission, because it seems unreasonable to try and regulate the type of language people use. However, because our society views swearing in this way, I do not think allowing it in the classroom would be beneficial for students. I can only imagine a parent’s reaction if I sent a first grader home rattling off a list of swear words they heard in class. On the other hand, as Pinker mentions, swearing serves certain purposes in language that are linked to emotion. Perhaps in a classroom of high school or college level students, using this type of expression would enhance discussions of certain topics. Personally, I rarely, if ever, swear because I grew up in a home where it was absolutely not allowed. If I were to swear now, my mom would probably still give me her stare of disapproval. Even in class, when TAs or professors swear, I feel surprised and caught off guard, which definitely reveals a lot about our society and the environment I have grown up in.

  2. Sushi says:

    I believe that profanity’s place in the classroom depends upon the type of classroom. Any sort of profanity is not appropriate for elementary and middle school classrooms for obvious reasons. I think that in high school classes, though, profanity is not necessarily appropriate but its level of acceptance is greater than that of middle and elementary classrooms. For instance, if a teacher or student accidentally slips in a “light” profanity (like “damn” or even “ass”), this would be all right and would most likely be laughed off. I think that stronger words of profanity, however, are not appropriate even for high school classrooms, despite the fact that students hear, and most likely use, such words outside of the classroom. College classrooms have the highest level of acceptability for profanity, in my opinion. Both teachers and students are able to occasionally insert profanities into their speech without it being a big deal. I do not believe that this should commonly occur though; it is simply more acceptable in comparison to other classrooms, when it does happen.

    Whenever a teacher or student would accidently or purposely slip in a profanity while in the classroom in high school, I always felt shocked. It felt so wrong, especially when the teacher would say one. I think it is interesting that outside of the classroom, hearing profanities was totally normal, but there was something about hearing one in the classroom that made me a react in a totally different way to it. There is something about the formality of classrooms that makes profanities feel inappropriate and unbecoming.

  3. MM24 says:

    I agree both with KT and Sushi’s views on profanity’s place in the classroom. I do not believe, though, that it should be tolerated as much as it is. I attended a city high school where I heard more profanity in 4 years than I have in college and other years of education. Even now, all of my friends use profanity and I try my best not to. Though it almost never shocks me in any circumstance to hear someone use profanity, I do not think that school is a place where it is apporpriate. What is important to remember is that profanity may be used like a second language to some students, especially if they are allowed to use it outside of the classroom. I strongly believe that if a child’s parents and community swear often around the child, then he or she will be more likely to use the same language. And if this is the case, though I think the language should not be tolerated in the classroom, I do not think that extreme measures should be taken when a swear word is heard.

    I do think that students can be taught to use other words to express their feelings. Pinker describes five ways people swear, and I think that teachers can show students that in each of the ways there are more appropriate forms of expression. But, again, teachers may be faced with difficult situations if a student is told not to swear and replies “But my parents do it”. Because of these reasons, and that students may not understand how to avoid swearing, I think that profanity can be tolerated to some extent, but always responded to with something along the lines of: “Please use another way to express yourself”.

  4. jen-nay. says:

    In agreement with KT@Pitt, I hope to be an elementary school teacher in the future and therefore do not think that profanity is appropriate in these classrooms. I believe that swearing is something that has to do with your family and their rules, and I feel like many parents do not want their young children swearing. However, kids might hear these words at home or from other children at school and think that it’s ok to say them. If the parents are allowing them to use profanity at home, then it should be our job as educators to try to rid the classrooms of these words to make it appropriate for everyone.

    As everyone gets older, swearing becomes more natural, but when you hear your first college professor use it in class, it always comes as a shock. I think that this has something to do with the fact, which Pinker argues, that profanity is involuntary, meaning that it’s always going to stand out to you. I grew up going to church my whole life and so swearing was represented as a sin or something was that is bad, and so whenever I hear a swear word, even though I hear them all the time, I quickly pick it out from the rest. However, within different contexts and situations, I take more notice to profanity over others. When I’m with my friends, I know they swear so their profanity doesn’t really stand out to me, but on the other hand, if I hear a professor swear it quickly pick it out because it’s unexpected since I rarely heard in high school from the teachers.

  5. TwentyThree says:

    As a teacher of older children or students, high school or college, profanity may be accepted or even encouraged in certain context. It is often used in older education settings to make a point. It was very rare for one of my high school teachers to casually swear during their lesson. As a future elementary teacher, profanity will have no place in my classroom. I do not believe it is the kind of language that we should be encouraging the youth of America to use. I am aware that I cannot stop it. Children are bound to pick up on the language that is used around them, and that language usually includes some type of foul words. Even though I can’t stop it, I will definitely not encourage it. If I did I think I would be looked at poorly by their parents and the community. It goes against what is typically expected of an elementary teacher.
    Like Sushi, my immediate reaction to profanity in class was always shock. I was just not used to authority figures using what society considers crude language. In my elementary school, teachers were not permitted to tell a student to “shut up.” If the accidentally did, it was taken very seriously and they could get into a lot of trouble for it. The teachers from my younger years of education would never dare use any taboo words. When educating younger children a teacher is expected to set a good example. In today’s world swearing is not necessarily considered a good trait and parents want to shelter their children from it for as long as possible.

  6. Supernova says:

    As a future educator, I believe profanity has a place in the classroom depending on the grade level you are teaching. If you are teaching kindergarten through eighth grade, I do not feel it would be appropriate to swear in the classroom. This is because your students are young, and swearing in front of them could have a negative effect on how they develop. On the other hand, if you are teaching high school or college level courses, profanity could be a way to make your students feel as though the teacher is a friend, which may cause more relaxed and free flowing class discussions.

    I believe there are acceptable levels of profanity for the classroom. For example, you should never swear at a student or use profanity to describe a student’s work. Although making jokes, or saying “what an ass”, or “oh shit – I forgot to post the slides”, will probably cause students to laugh and not think anything of it.

    I have had numerous experiences with students and teachers using profanity in high school and college. I have found that when teacher’s uses swear words, depending upon the context and intent, I usually feel more relateable to them. If everyone is honest, we all swear! Whether it’s every other word, when you are hanging out with friends, or only when you are very upset/excited. I also feel that responsible adult’s sensor themselves for the situations in which some profanity is acceptable and which are not. If a teacher swears first, then you may feel free to throw out a cuss word of your own, and this makes the classroom more comfortable.

  7. DrSeuss says:

    I believe that swearing has multiple functions. Most adults use profanity as a form of humor, to help clarify the intensity of a situation, or even just out of frustration. However when we are young, the first function of swearing is generally to create a negative feeling. Children know that swear words are taboo and that is exactly why they use them. To them, they may think saying “fuck you” is the equivalent to sticking out their tongue. Children can’t grasp what exactly they are saying let alone realize that it can be extremely hurtful.

    As a future elementary teacher, I do not think that swearing should be infiltrated into a classroom in any way, shape, or form. By allowing them to use profanity, you are providing them with yet another weapon to bully their fellow classmates. Schools already frown upon negative words or phrases, so I cannot see the transition into using swear words as a smooth one.

    However, like I previously stated, there are many different functions for swear words, ones that can only be grasped at a much older age. Although I could not see the use of profanity for younger grades, I think that with time it could be more accepted at the high school level. Profanity can be a form of self-expression, and as long as it was not directed toward one another, this could be considered acceptable. By not having to censor yourself as either a student or teacher, you can get your point across better and even appear more approachable. Profanity all depends on context, so the level at which it could be used would have to be decided by the teacher.

  8. mmmk says:

    I think that profanity does have a place in the classroom. That being said different profanities are appropriate at different ages. 3rd grade teachers should be saying, “that personal memoir is fucking awesome!” Kindergarten teachers should not say “holy shit you all have a lot of energy today—lets go to the playground!” There is a level of appropriateness (a totally subjective idea) that needs to be maintained differs in every classroom.
    Any language being used by students has a place in the classroom even if it is “a bad word”, if students use the language it is already in the classroom, it is just a question of how you are going to use that language in the classroom. Each teacher needs to use kairos to evaluate their audience and school environment and how best to use the language with in the classroom/ curriculum.
    The idea of each teacher making their own evaluation for their classroom backs us back to discussing the “level of appropriateness”. The FCC, the judges of appropriateness in our country, have extremely vague and subjective guidelines for what is appropriate. What may be appropriate to some is completely offensive to others. Teachers at catholic schools, teachers at orthodox Jewish schools, teachers of schools with high teen pregnancy rates all have to make their own judgment. What is appropriate for each classroom with regards to language is subjective. In some classrooms it is appropriate to say shit, while in other even shoot is too much.

  9. lauren16 says:

    I agree with the majority of my peers in that profanity does not have a place in the classroom, especially in elementary school. In high school it’s a little different because many students already know and are most likely using several curse words. I can see how a teacher might say “shit” or “damn it” accidently without realizing it. To the students it’s not really a big deal because they swear all the time. It is unlikely that they will run home and tell their mom that swore when he realized he forgot something at home. With that being said, it still believe that it is unprofessional and inappropriate for a teacher to continuously swear and curse to the kids he or she should be acting as a role model for. As a future elementary educator, I know that I will have to be aware of what I am saying and be sure to never curse in front of my students. I know that students will be looking up to me and that parents will be trusting me with their children for 8 hours a day. I can see how a swear word could accidently slip out once in a while, but I don’t think any teacher should ever intentionally swear in a classroom.

    In my personal experiences I didn’t really hear any swearing from teachers until high school. At that point, it seemed like the “cool” teachers were doing it. The teachers who connected more with the students seemed to swear more. Many of them had personal relationships with students; one even became facebook friends with some of my peers after graduation. It wasn’t like they did it all the time, but sometimes they would swear while telling a story or out of frustration. At the time, I never really thought much of it, but now looking back I realize that it probably wasn’t completely appropriate.

  10. KateG says:

    I agree with many people that profanity does not have a place in elementary or middle school classrooms. Unfortunately, swear words and other profanities have a negative connotation in society. As a teacher, I believe it is important to not overstep the boundary of what is learned at home versus what is learned in school. The point of a parent is to instill their values in their child, and parent them based on how they want the child to behave. As a teacher, using profanities would overstep this boundary. I would most likely be asked to have a meeting with my superiors the instant a student told their parents the words they learned in class if I were to use/accept profanity. In high school though, I believe profanity is more acceptable. Of course if I were to say “shit” in a high school class I would get the initial gasp, but then class would continue. High school students are more mature and have been exposed to many things so I think profanity is not as much of an issue. It could distract from the lessons though so it should not be used frequently.

    In my experience, I did not hear teachers curse until 7th or 8th grade and the words they said were not the “really bad ones”. The occasional “damn” and “shit” were thrown into lectures and the class was always shocked. This gradually increased when I got to high school. It was not abnormal to hear a teacher swear and it was more accepted. Again I think because of students’ increased maturity it was more accepted. I did not hear students really curse in class though because of fear of how the teacher would react. I find this very interesting. We are frequently very worried about what our peers think, so it is surprising that more students didn’t use profanities in class in order to seem “cooler”.

  11. Pitt88 says:

    As a future educator of young children, I absolutely do not believe that profanity should have a place in the classroom. I think that children, especially in kindergarten through fourth grade (the levels in which I will be certified) should learn the English language in a positive way, rather than including profanity. Some students may pick up “bad words” from their parents, but ultimately should not be relayed into the classroom setting.

    I do not believe that there are acceptable levels of profanity in the classroom because, as teachers, we should be encouraging students to learn new, useful and exciting concepts (math, reading, writing) and profanity is clearly not included, rather it is demeaning to classmates, teachers, and higher authority. If I were a young language learner and heard one of my teachers use profanity in the classroom, I would be very offended and go home and report to my mom what had happened. With this in mind, it is important for teachers to keep profanity entirely out of the classroom and make no exceptions for any student, no matter the language they may hear in their homes.

    As a senior in high school, I had a math teacher who was new and therefore very afraid of teaching a class of thirty seniors with bad attitudes. Of course, out of the classroom all of my classmates swore while talking to one another, but never in school, especially to our teacher. But, one day our teacher had enough of us and said, “Everybody shut the FUCK up!!” At this point we were all so shocked that our shy, intimidated teacher just screamed the word “fuck” at us in such a negative manner. Although we were in high school, I still found this one slip up of profanity to be completely unacceptable, especially coming from a well-educated adult. Overall, I think this this experience helped enlighten me on how students feel being scolded with profanity and influenced my decision to never use or accept profanity in my classroom.

  12. tcs32 says:

    In my opinion, the classroom is not really an appropriate space for profanity to be used. Classrooms and schools are places where students come to learn and be educated, and I do not see any educational value in using profanity in the classroom. That being said, if teachers do choose to use profanity in their classes, I think it is important for them to understand their audience. I do not think that anyone would find it appropriate to curse in front of a group of elementary school aged children. As many others have mentioned, I just think that this is far too young an age group to be using profane language with. As students get older and are more exposed to this type of language, then it may become more acceptable to swear in front of them, but for myself, I would draw the line at using profane language before students are in high school, if at all.

    In my experience, I have had a few teachers (none of which I had before high school) that occasionally swore in the classroom. This was never an issue for students, and the teacher was never reprimanded or punished. I think that the reason the profanity was laughed off was because it was not directed toward students or used in a derogatory context toward anyone in particular. Another reason that the profanity was taken so lightly was because my teachers always used “lighter” curse words. There was the occasional “ass” or “damn,” but never “shit” and nobody ever “dropped the f-bomb.” I think that if the occasional curse word is used by an educator, they need to be cautious of what they are saying, because while all swearing may not be taken seriously, some words are obviously more offensive than others.

  13. lmwb53013 says:

    As a future early childhood educator, I do not believe that profanity has a place in the classroom. Like DrSeuss, I believe that young children understand that some words are taboo and subsequently think it is funny to use them. However, young children do not understand the gravity of swear words and the negative emotions that they can convey and create, which Pinker talked about in his lecture. I also agree with many of my classmates that it is the responsibility of the teacher to set an appropriate example of behavior for students. Students may or may not be getting this example in their own home, so it is the duty of the teacher to try to model appropriate adult behavior while the children are in his or her care. I do not believe that profanity is appropriate in the classroom until the college level. When I was in high school, if my teachers swore in class frequently I lost some respect for them because of their lack of appropriateness—the role of the teacher is not to be the students’ best friend and behave or speak as friends would. By using profanity, teachers sink down (or try to sink down) to a level of camaraderie with their students, but what does this really accomplish? Yes, it may allow some students to feel a connection to the teacher. However, teachers could seek a connection to their students in other ways, without using profanity and while still behaving appropriately.

  14. Tim Tebow says:

    Like Supernova, I agree that profanity has a place in a classroom depending on what grade level is being taught. As a future elementary teacher, I know that no matter what I can never let a curse slip during class. But, in high school, I think profane language can be tolerated to a certain extent. I don’t think that teachers should condone using curse words during class, but if a high school student utters “Shit, I forgot to do my homework” they shouldn’t be punished. High schoolers know what language is appropriate; if they accidently say a curse usually they are a little embarrassed. Sometimes we let things slip when we are speaking, it happens, but if profane language isn’t corrected in elementary school it can have repercussions. If a kindergartener would say that phrase I feel that they should be corrected and told not to use that type of language in school. If they are not corrected, they may never understand the unwritten rules of language in schools that high schoolers do. Teachers that don’t correct this language may receive punishment from administration or dissatisfied parents.
    I don’t have much experience when it comes to teachers using profanity in classrooms. In high school, if a teacher said a curse word everyone would either laugh or be shocked. In college, it is much different. In my brief experiences, when a professor throws a couple curse words in a sentence it almost relaxes the class. People ease up on the tension that comes with college and realize that the professor can be human like the rest of us.

  15. csmith292 says:

    I, like so many others have mentioned, hope to become a primary school educator and believe that profanity does not have a place in a classroom full of young children. Elementary students I’d be teaching would range from 6-11 years of age; and because of the way that our society views swearing, to allow these children to curse in the classroom would be to promote what society views as entirely negative. Sure, swear words can be directly linked to emotion; although, it is completely unnecessary for children to use these words to describe how they are feeling. There really are no acceptable levels of profanity in the classroom. Even in higher education⎯in high school and college⎯profanity is generally looked down upon. If a college professor swears, the whole class usually giggles. Hearing swear words in the classroom has become unexpected. If a high school/college student swears here and there (in the classroom), it’s no big deal; but if they do it all the time, peers and classmates will surely recognize this and probably find it ridiculous and uncalled for.
    I had a really strange experience back in elementary school: in second grade there was a boy named Emanuel in my class who swore constantly: everything was fuck this, fuck that. Every student knew him and his older brother as the bad kids. The two boys were known to steal other children’s belongings, and would constantly bully others. Looking back, this behavior probably correlates with their home situation. The boys were only at our school for a year, but I will never forget how he behaved in the classroom and outside at recess. I think his swearing is most prominent in my memory because it was so constant and my teacher had a really difficult time controlling him. If our teacher had ignored his use of language, parents would have surely complained as we would have started to use the swear words that he was using.

  16. ALS178 says:

    As a future educator, I do not believe there is a place for profanity in a young classroom setting. Most would agree that inappropriate language isn’t a form of education and shouldn’t be used during a lesson. Teachers should also act professional during relaxed conversations with the students because in your students’ eyes, you are a role model to them. Most children will repeat everything they hear an adult say even when they are not talking directly to the child.

    As a college student, I do agree that certain profanity is appropriate in college classroom because once you’re a freshman in college you are pretty much out in the real world with things. I have heard mostly all of my professors curse at least once in class or during office hours, and like other students, I find it hilarious. It certainly lightens the mood in a classroom and has an opposite negative effect unlike Pinker’s opinion on profanity. The context of the lesson is important because if a teacher or student swears and it is not in a joking way, certain feelings are hurt among other students and a matter of uncomfortableness arises. The teacher should be cautious when they do use a curse word and what word they do use. In my experience, my teachers have always kept conversations between students professional and used an occasional curse word when joking around. I appreciate some humor in the classroom now and then.

  17. Fay Mousse says:

    As a future educator of elementary students, I believe that swearing and vulgar language has absolutely no place in the classroom. Young children should be learning language in a manner that is socially acceptable and positive. Profanity is often associated with “bad behavior” and is often seen as demeaning and shameful, especially when spoken by children. I can only imagine parents’ reactions if their children came home using such colorful language. Even as children get older and become more exposed to profanity, I still believe that the classroom is an unacceptable place for such language. It is the teacher’s responsibility to be setting a positive, respectable, and appropriate example of behavior for his or her students.

    I remember a few select teachers from grade school that used profanity or would sometimes accidentally let an expletive slip. Their lack of appropriateness to seem “bad ass” to their students led me to loose respect for them. On the other hand, I feel that using profanity in a college classroom setting can be appropriate. I have had professors swear in the past and it eased the tension in the room and made them appear to be more accessible and “more like us.” Even with the occasional curse word the environment was still professional and simply added a level of humor to the lecture. Using profanity in the classroom is all about delivery and its context, and of course is dependent on the audience.

  18. muskoka1 says:

    I was raised much in the same way that KT@Pitt was raised. My parents do not condone swearing especially for me because it is not lady-like. My mom is pretty old-fashioned and hates when I say coarse words such as “sucks” or “crap.” Growing up with this mentality, I have a tendency to dislike swearing especially when it is used excessively or unnecessarily. Also, I think that there are different levels of curse words. For example, I think that “damn” is a lower-level swear word that can pass without too much ruffling of the feathers. On the other hand, I think “fuck” is an extremely ugly word and at the highest-level of swear words. To me, saying “damn” is not that big of a deal, but when someone says “fuck” it usually catches me off guard and almost makes me flinch.

    That being said, in an educational setting swearing should not be allowed; however, I think that at a college level, students are more likely to swear (because of maturity), and professors are more apt to allow it and swear as well. I’ve noticed that this is generally the case among college students and professors alike, at least at Pitt. For younger students (high school and below), I think swearing is too mature to be used in the classroom. Not to belittle younger students, but they don’t understand how to appropriately swear if there really is such a thing. I think it detracts from the learning environment and opens the door for what Steven Pinker describes as abusive swearing. Students whose swearing is allowed in classrooms will then see nothing wrong with using it against other students as a form of bullying. I understand that because of the environments in which some kids were raised, children would probably swear a lot if they grew up with families that swore often as MM24 said. However, the abusive swearing, such as calling a classmate a “piece of shit,” would decrease the value of education and the students’ school environment.

  19. darkknight5 says:

    With my future career hopefully being as an elementary school teacher, I do not see myself using or allowing any profane language in the classroom, or in the school as a whole. With kids of such young ages, I do not believe that explicit language is necessary or every acceptable, they are just too young to be using curse words. Although I know these students will know and occasionally use curse words, I think teaching them that explicit language is not acceptable in the classroom. As “KT@Pitt” stats, “I do not think allowing it in the classroom would be beneficial for students.” If I were to ever slip as an elementary school teacher I am sure that a lot of my students’ parents would quickly hear about my word choice, and my reputation could be in trouble, along with some sort of punishment for my actions. I can remember back to second grade when my teacher cursed (don’t remember exactly what she said) and many parents of children in my class quickly disapproved and let my teacher know about it. Nothing happened to my teacher, but I know that profane language had no place in her second grade classroom, both from the students and from her, the teacher. With that being said, I do not believe that profane language has no place in any classrooms, just in elementary and middle school classrooms. I can also remember back to my sixth grade classroom, where we had an ex-Army officer as our social studies teacher, and he would get very angry and curse every once in a while. At first it was a big deal, but after it happening a few times his use of profane language wasn’t seen as weird, just intimidating. But his words were not seen as that wrong because he only used words like “hell” and “damn.”

    As kids grow up, their language at home is often times more widely acceptable, and I think it should be similar in the classroom. As students enter their high school years, I believe that a slip up every once in a while should not be punished, but rather just corrected. Some of the less “bad” curse words should be allowed, such as “hell,” “damn,” and “ass,” but words like “fuck” and “bitch” should still be frowned upon if used. During my high school years, you could curse in some classrooms completely (including fuck, bitch, etc.) without any punishment coming from it, other teachers would allow an occasional slip up or overhearing you with your friends if you used “harsh” curse words without any punishment, but would still punish you if you dropped a “fuck” into a classroom discussion. And finally, other teachers allowed absolutely no cursing, no matter what. Teachers all viewed cursing differently, and some saw the different levels of curse words (ex: ass vs fuck). Throughout high school, I do not agree that students should be allowed to curse whenever they want, but I think that amongst their friends and slip ups should be allowed, but anything where a large audience can hear it is unacceptable.

    As you enter your college years, I think just about every word is fair game, minus a few offensive and obnoxious words. But this still depends greatly on the professor and course material. In every classroom I think that words like “shit” “hell” and “ass” are acceptable, but there are also professors like Prof. Vee that allow all curse words, as long as the context is right, such as in class on Monday. As a college professor I agree with how Professor Vee teaches class, and think we are all mature and “adult” enough to handle using curse words in casual conversation. Overall, as your age goes up, so does the number of course words that are acceptable in your classroom.

  20. mlhuxta says:

    As a college student, I appreciate when a professor can let his or her guard down and talk to us in an informal way, this would include swearing. We all swear, professors and students alike, at some point in our lives. Whether this occurs only when something bad or painful happens like spilling coffee everywhere or on a more regular basis such as missing the bus to campus every morning, it does happen. When a professor can show that he or she is on the same level as the students, the classroom becomes more relaxed. However, college is a unique situation where most, if not all, students are mature and professional. Therefore, this mutual understanding and ability to let down walls between the student and the professor is appropriate.

    I aspire to teach elementary school and swearing, of course, would not be tolerated whatsoever. While half of me feels as though words are words and children should not be so sheltered from mere words, the other half of my brain tells me to preserve childhood innocence for as long as possible and avoid derogatory words at all costs. Exposing children to the vulgar definitions behind swear words enlightens youngsters in an inappropriate way. There are always the few students in an elementary classroom who insist on introducing their classmates to the truth that Santa Claus is not real or that shit is a bad word. At this point, I would be at a loss for how to deal with such situations in my classroom. In spite of this, I am sure that the use of profanity would be intolerable in any setting besides a university setting because it is still crucial to reinforce the position of teacher and student in a classroom in an effort to cultivate an acceptable learning environment that places the teacher as the authoritative figure.

  21. BonitaApplebaum says:

    Like Kt@Pitt, I too aspire to be an educator of elementary school students. Therefore, I believe that in no way is profanity an appropriate means of communication in a classroom setting, or any setting for that matter. I can’t imagine how appalled and/or astonished I would be if I heard my fourth grader use an expletive in conversation or even as a mistake. When discussing the blog posts during last week’s teaching presentation, one blogger noted that using “text talk” in formal assignments is an inappropriate way to express oneself when that can be done just as well using standard language. I believe that this is also true for whether or not profanity should be used in classrooms. School is regarded as a place of learning and knowledge. Swearing, curse words, expletives, or foul language should not be what children acquire in an academic setting. Similarly how Johnson chose to leave curse words out of his dictionary, they should also be left out of the classroom. As educators, to encourage or allow profanity within the classroom is inappropriate and can be offensive. There should never be a time or need, especially in an elementary classroom, where profanity is accepted or tolerated.

    I do find it interesting that profanity is more widely accepted at a high school or college level. But even in these settings, I think the use of profanity depends on the atmosphere of the class. For example, in one of my smaller discussion based classes, it is not frowned upon when a curse word slips out in conversation. In fact, it is almost appropriate and encouraged at times as we talk about controversial and sometimes personal issues. However, in a more formal class like History and Politics or a lecture, it is not as appropriate. In certain academic settings, profanity may be okay but I think it depends on the formality of the situation.

  22. jvdub says:

    I do not think profanity has a place in the classroom. At least not in the classroom I would be teaching in. I say this mainly because I would work in the preschool to fourth grade range and I do not think that profanity is appropriate at this level. I am sure it would be brought into the classroom because of children’s out of school life, and in this case I would advise the student to not use it or they would receive a punishment. However, I think I would be more lenient if I was teaching high schoolers opposed to elementary schoolers. Sometimes cuss words are appropriate in certain context. For example, I would allow a student to use curse words in a paper if it was relevant to the rest of the paper. I would also allow a minimal level of profanity in discussion; again as long it related to the conversation. I would not allow people using profanity just for fun—like putting ‘fuck’ in sentences randomly just to be funny or want attention. I do not think swearing has a place in the education system unless the lesson is actually on the history and politics of it. Despite my beliefs, many teachers still curse while teaching or talking to students. My freshman year of college I had a professor that would cuss every other sentence and even though it made her seem really cool, I felt like it took away from her lecture. I think this happened because it was too distracting. It was a bit of overkill. Profanity just is not a necessary tool for learning and I think everyone should try their best to keep it out of the classroom.