Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Nana Confesses

The Portland evening news is reporting that a high school in the valley has banned swearing. Students who use profanity face suspension. The newscast is asking viewers to vote in a poll if students should receive a suspension for swearing at school. I’ll have to tune in at 11:00 and see how viewers are voting.
Have these people not been around a teenager lately? Have they not listened to music that wasn't purchased at and censored by Walmart?

I have to admit that I use an occasional profanity myself. Okay, I’m waiting for the gasps to die down. Yes, Nana swears. I’ve even been known to use the “F” word. Sometimes there’s nothing that does the job better than a carefully chosen profanity. That was one thing that I really enjoyed when I first retired…I was no longer under any expectation to mind my mouth in public. I enjoyed being able to call bulls**t, bulls**t. And restraint was one of the things I had to relearn when I started occasionally substituting at the high school.

If you’ve been around teenagers, you know that they don’t always monitor their use of vocabulary. Some kids liberally use profanity when talking to each other. When I was a kid my mother would chastise us for using “shut up.” She cringed when we used “bitchin.” As in, “Wow, that’s a bitchin pair of madras shorts you’re wearing.”

Perhaps the difference now is that some students, and in some cases their parents, don’t see the line between using profanity in a casual conversation with friends and in using it in a more formal environment such as a classroom. When I was an assistant principal I had parents in my office say things like:

“What the f**k is wrong with that bi*ch teacher? Why is she picking on my kid?”

“Why did I have to come down to this f**king school?”

“What’s the f**king problem now?”

…and we wonder why their kids have problems understanding the boundaries. 

I don’t get the vapors when I hear a kid use profanity in my classroom. I do remind them that using profanity in the classroom isn’t appropriate and for most kids that’s enough. The kids who push it are the ones that are looking for a fight. They’re testing to see if I’ll enforce the rules. I will.

I’ll be thinking “Shut  up you little as*wipe.” But, instead I’ll just give them the golden ticket to the office. It what they wanted anyway.

I’ve had conversations with kids about how disrespectful it is to call each other bitch. They don’t get it. They will; they’re young. It’s another reason why public education is so important. So many kids aren’t learning these lessons at home. I’m their role model…it’s why I don’t use profanity at school!


  1. I remember hearing a scout leader rebuking one of the boys for swearing. He pointed out that if you use the worst swear words you know in every other sentence, you will have nothing left to use when things really go wrong.

  2. It's the usual disconnect between generations. I think that the frequency of hearing all these swear words just makes them into mild expressions these days. Suspending kids for swearing is the wrong approach, in my opinion. And you're right: they are surrounded by these words, so they don't see them as being loaded words. They are just words, for heaven's sake!

  3. I blame it on the longshoremen carrying all of those multi-syllabic expletives home from work. The stuff we hear from kids is tame compared to what sailors have taught longshoremen.

  4. I'm not sure suspension is the answer, but clear standards and accountability are essential. Things like this make me glad I ended my classroom career in third grade where the worst they were brave enough to say in class was, "pissed off."

  5. Love it! You made me smile. I don't even think they realized how much they use these "f**ing" words.

    Female teachers at the school where I used to work would gift each other with "B" pins. Some were studded with rhinestones. We wore them proudly, pretended they stood for our mascot, the bulldog, and congratulated each other for being the top "B" when we had to stand up to some of the nonsense that parents and students seemed to throw at us. We would remain professional, but inside, our inner "B" was standing proud.

  6. I have a mouth like a sailor, but I also am respectful and I don't cuss around people who might find it offensive. The devolution of society upsets me (a f**king lot!) and I think the popularity of cussing among kids is a symptom of a much larger disease that adults should be addressing.

  7. I heard that too. I feel for the enforcers!

  8. Nana I am still in shock at learning that your swear.

    I am petitioning for a swear box in our offices at work. One of the other sites has one and they have cleverly graded it for the severity of each sweary. The mild ones are 10p going up to a £1 for the naughty ones. The office next to mine would be bankrupt in a week if we had this, it would pay for a good night out.

    I swear but i find it switches on and off. Off when I'm with parents, clients and some friends. On when I'm with other friends or certain colleagues.

    When kids swear all the time it sounds awful but it doesn't have any real impact. Like I swear more if I'm really angry or upset, if I was swearing every other word then the only escalation left would be f**k, f**k, F**kedy, f**kedy f**k and thats just silly!

  9. See, now...this is why I might not be The Best Candidate for a school secretary position. All that controlled language and careful modulation. I'm not very good at that...

  10. Been there done that. I have a problem --- I swear like a sailor (D*mn, I was a Sailor, No wonder (LOL)) and because of that I have a very "twisted" tongue, and due to that I have had to tell my daughters that "If they Use it right, I can't say anything, just don't let me hear you doing it to be doing it."

    About a week ago the oldest was in the kitchen getting a drink when...... *CRASH* (uncomfortable pause) "Damn,....... Shit..... F-Bomb (but she used the F***)." I went running to find her standing stock still in the kitchen and asked why she wasn't cleaning it up then looked down - She didn't have any shoes on and shards of Glass all over the floor around her. In the same boat I know I more than likely would have been much much more colorful than what she was.

    I guess she used them right.

  11. Sorry to go so far back...everybody swears at school. The teachers, the students, the subs.
    I have a potty mouth but I try to keep it fairly clean on the blog. Thanks for the follow.


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