Most people at the college level are considered adults. If students are considered mature enough to handle literature in the classroom that involves cursing, there is no reason why the practice cannot be occasionally allowed in the classroom. The idea of a bill that would penalize teachers for cursing in the classroom is explored in Yahoo.com writer Piper Weiss’s proposal “Should Teachers Be Banned from Cursing in School?” The bill, Arizona’s clean-speech-for-teachers-act, was created after a parent complained about a high school teacher using inappropriate language in front of his or her child.
Cursing in the classroom is so situational that it seems absurd to attempt to regulate it. Of course, there is no reason for a first grade teacher to curse in front of a class. On the other hand, many high school classes read literature involving cursing, which may be an important point of discussion. There is also the issue that authority figures would not know whether a teacher cursed in front of his or her class unless a student or parent reported it, leaving some teachers punished and others without consequence.
This made me ponder how I feel about professors cursing in a college setting. If some find it unacceptable to curse in front of high school students, do they also find it inappropriate to curse in front of college students? Is it ever appropriate?
Cursing that sounds forced tends to make people sound unintelligent, as though the person cannot think of a better way to get their feelings across to others. Admittedly, I am not a person who curses very often. However, I think many will agree cursing is a part of our culture, as curses tend to slip out unintentionally.
Unless a professor uses slang and curses on a regular basis, there should be no issue with the occasional slip of the tongue. I have not lost respect for a professor who sprinkles in curse words now and again. After all, even though they are authority figures, they are only human. This is not to say that professors should curse constantly. If this occurs very often, it could make the class feel intimidated or uncomfortable and might make the professor seem highly unprofessional.
Professors may curse in situations to place themselves on the same level as students in order to seem more approachable. Quite frankly, it is appreciated when professors attempt to relate to their students. Cursing is a part of everyday dialogue for most, and speaking the same way students do brings a sense that the professor is talking with the students, instead of lecturing at them.
In the real world, bosses curse in front of their employees from time to time. While it may not always be professional, it happens. College should prepare students for the real world in every sense. While it is doubtful that professors curse to prepare their students for real life, it is still important that students are treated much like they will be treated after graduation, which includes the way others will speak with them.
Professors are like the rest of us. While they should set a good example for students, cursing every so often is not something that makes someone a bad worker or a bad person. As long as professors do not curse on a regular basis or speak in a way that offends a student, they should act and speak the way that feels most natural to them. A professor’s ease in speaking to a class only helps students connect with him or her, creating a positive learning experience.
Freshman journalism/American studies major