What would you do if your child’s teacher swore at them?

There’s been quite a hoo-hah lately about swearing.

After the John Terry trial earlier this month, in which the Chelsea football club captain was cleared of a racially aggravated public order offence, Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt railed against the foul language that pours forth from footballers’ mouths.

He was widely reported as saying that footballers should set an example, adding that as a qualified football referee, he’d been at the sharp end of the sportsmen’s potty mouths.

He may be right, or you might disagree, on his view about footballers setting an example, but what about others who have a more direct influence on children?

I’m talking parents (naturally) and teachers.

There’s nothing more cringe-worthy than seeing a parent effing and jeffing at their young child as they leave the playground. Is it any wonder that some youngsters have no clue as to what is and isn’t acceptable language in “polite society”?

But teachers swearing at students or using inappropriate language in front of them?

I’m appalled to say that I’ve had many reports from my daughter about staff at her secondary school using bad language in front of the students – even the year 7s (who are aged 11-12).

Among the reports (from a number of pupils), I’ve heard of a teacher apparently telling a boy to get that “piece of sh**” off his desk – referring to a piece of work he had completed, and another member of staff (not a teacher) calling another lad a “ginger pr***”.

As none of the offending words have been directed at my daughter I’ve not gone up to the school to complain. Now I’m not sure if I did the right thing by not sticking my two penn’eth in.

Teachers deserve respect. They are in a position of authority and should be listened to. They are role models. (Like many other professions. I’m not putting teachers on pedestals here.) But resorting to foul language in front of their pupils negates that, as far as I am concerned. It shows they have lost control of the situation; it shows a lack of courtesy.

While I understand that they sometimes bear the brunt of students’ anger and are at the receiving end of some pretty unpleasant language themselves, I don’t believe that the teachers should reciprocate. And I certainly don’t believe that they should use it as part of their everyday vocabulary in class.

Don’t get me wrong: I’m not averse to using profanities myself, but I do mentally assess the situation to decide whether or not it’s appropriate.

I have found myself in classrooms before now, delivering journalism workshops, and would never dream of using expletives – even if the pupils have used words that I’d not consider appropriate in the circumstances.

I wouldn’t expect a doctor or nurse to swear at their patients; I wouldn’t expect a bank teller to tell their customers to eff-off; I’d be shocked if a waiter in a restaurant used bad language around his customers.

It’s the summer holiday now and so I’m too late to do anything about it for this year. But what to do next year?

How would you deal with reports of your children’s teachers swearing?


3 thoughts on “What would you do if your child’s teacher swore at them?

  1. SirBillTaylor

    Tricky one? But not in formal settings, & not teacher/child…just NO! I am a user of the full richness of language, I’m afraid…but in formal settings its not right…we do swear now, me & my children, but they are 30 & 26 & never at each other, usually reporting speech of others…

  2. Andy Venables

    I have spoken to kids who were causing a nuisance outside my house and they used some expletives in their response. I didn’t use any swear words when I spoke to them because that would have meant me losing the moral high ground, giving them justification to use that kind of language, and the exchange would have just degenerated further. I blame programmes like East Enders and some of today’s rap music, not to mention certain Premiership footballers, for setting poor examples to young people who are finding their feet in life and need to identify what the boundaries of acceptability are. I don’t wear a halo but there is a time and place and a context in which swearing is justified or acceptable. The use of swearing by teachers, in the examples you gave, is neither acceptable whether kids are on the receiving end nor within earshot.

  3. Nick

    Don’t think I ever heard one of my teachers swear, but that was over 30 years ago. Nobody swore then – right? Disturbed by the comment that a piece of work is shit. I think even if you think something is poor, at least focus on any positives to give encouragement and bring the rest up to scratch.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *