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Should Teachers Be Banned from Cursing in School?

Posted by on Feb. 27, 2012 at 3:57 PM
  • 17 Replies

 (ThinkStock Photos)(ThinkStock Photos)If you can't say that on television, than you shouldn't say it in class. That's the gist of a new bill proposed by a conservative Arizona lawmaker, Lori Klein. If she gets her way, teachers will be penalized for cursing in front of students.

A slip-up could result in suspension, docked pay, and, even job loss.

While most school officials wouldn't advocate cursing in front of kids, it happens. And the definition and use of an offending word isn't always clear-cut.

"Arizona's clean-speech-for-teachers act is not likely to survive a constitutional test if it is enacted," Dennis Baron, a Linguistics and English professor at the University of Illinois, writes on his personal blog. "But even without the statute, the state's teachers still won't be able to explore with their students the implications of Caliban's provocative claim about language and cursing."

From The Tempest to Huck Finn, bad words surface throughout the cannon of English literature. How will teachers work through complicated texts under the looming threat of job loss? Another sticky issue comes up in biology class. The blogger behind From Hip to Housewife recalled her daughter's schooling on slang during frank sex education lessons.

"The teachers explain the "real" words for the reproductive and sexual organs, the sexual act and various and sundry other words having to do with puberty," she explains. "Then they ask the kids what words they know. And it turns out, they know A LOT of words."

Could an FCC style ban in the classroom hamper the education process and freedom of speech in general?

"That is really problematic," David Hudson of the First Amendment Center, told MSNBC. "There are serious First Amendment problems with it, serious academic freedom violations."

Education aside, teachers are also human, and at times, four letter words slip from their mouths as nature intended. Is it really such a big deal?

"I definitely don't think that teachers should be cursing all willy nilly, but if something sudden happens and it slips, I'm going to give them a pass," writes one parent on the forum CafeMom .

Some parents aren't as forgiving. "Learning those words in school somehow validates the words themselves," writes another CafeMom member. "School is for education. Let's set examples and teach them that cursing is not good behavior even if it's acceptable in videos and movies."

New York City's department of education might agree with that statement. In 2010, a Manhattan teacher was suspended and docked $15,000 in pay after cursing in Spanish during one of his classes. Ironically, when the teacher took the school to task in court, the judge was far more lenient, cutting his fine down to just $1000.

But if Klein's bill passes, Arizona judges may not be as understanding.

"Frankly school boards are the ones who should be making these decisions," David Schapira, an Arizona lawmaker who opposes the bill, told the Associated Press, adding, "I don't remember this being a big problem when I taught high school."

What do you think: Should teachers be criminalized for cursing in the classroom?

by on Feb. 27, 2012 at 3:57 PM
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Replies (1-10):
by on Feb. 27, 2012 at 5:26 PM

 If it is a slip during a stressful time then that's okay with me but they should not be doing it all the time. We all have a slip now and then so I wouldn't hold it against the teacher for a slip up

by on Feb. 27, 2012 at 5:33 PM

 I also think teachers shouldn't be penalized for reading the words from a book. for example if reading passages from Huck Finn aloud, a teacher shouldn't fear for her job because the n-word is in the text.

by on Feb. 27, 2012 at 7:01 PM

I don't feel walking around swearing like a sailor is appropriate, but a slip up here or there is ok. 

by on Feb. 27, 2012 at 7:53 PM

no they shouldn't it is the parents responsibility to teach their children that certain words are bad. no teachers shouldn't curse not only because it is around children but because it is a workplace. they should act professionally even if they drop a book on their foot. but that does not mean they should lose their jobs over it! ok yeah if someone is just throwing cuss words around like its going out of style maybe they  should be suspended but if it slips and they realize what they said then it should be allowed to slide. 

by on Feb. 27, 2012 at 8:17 PM

 I don't think your child's teacher should be cussing at all.........

by on Feb. 27, 2012 at 8:30 PM

 what if they are reading aloud from course materials? for example MacBeth "Out damn spot"

Quoting snuggiewoogie:

 I don't think your child's teacher should be cussing at all.........


by on Feb. 27, 2012 at 9:20 PM

my kids don't hear cursing at home-NONE!- Then they better not hear it at school from a teacher--no matter the text they're reading! One can get one's point across without using foul language & if one can't, then maybe they shouldn't say anything at all!

Sadly, they're going to hear it from ill-mannered kids at school which is one of the MANY reasons i am considering home school for my kids. 

by on Feb. 27, 2012 at 9:44 PM

I don't think a foul mouth should be allowed but accidents happen and as pointed cursing can be subjective.I think it also depends on the age of the students. Elementary kids shouldn't have to hear curse words but High school students won'tbe scarred by an occasional slip up.

by on Feb. 28, 2012 at 12:38 AM
1 mom liked this

Meh...I think that is going to come down to a violation of the First Amendment. They cannot pass a law controlling what you are allowed to say. If a teacher curses, especially in a class such as literature, the fact is that cursing is a part of our language. My children know what words they can and cannot use. I don't think teachers should be penalized for it though.

by on May. 23, 2012 at 2:15 PM

interesting subject

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