The very same teachers who tell their students that cliched phrase “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me,” are the same teachers who would readily suspend or expel a student for using words the teacher doesn’t agree with.
It seems like every week there’s a new student who has been suspended for saying a curse word, disagreeing with a teacher or saying something that contradicts the teacher’s, or the school’s, point of view. Schools need to own up to usage of language and keep a clearer message throughout education. My view has always been a person can use any word, as long as it is used correctly. This isn’t a content based restriction, but rather a rule based restriction.
Instead of punishing a student and restricting his or her access to the education that will make their vocabulary better, why not have the student explain why his or her word choice fit in that particular scenario? Instead of punishment, many students would actually blossom if they were challenged in these scenarios.
Besides, the punishment doesn’t help anyone. Those who wanted attention and wanted to be punished because they are lashing out will get exactly what they want. Those students who are bored and therefore are lashing out won’t get the challenge that they need. Next time someone curses, perhaps question them on it.
That only addresses the cursing. What really gets under my skin is when students are punished for political or religious views. Debate on these topics can be incredibly stimulating, but punishment for having an opinion breeds hatred and stifles any hope for understanding the other sides’ positions. Instead of punishing in these situations, we need to foster the debate, and if the debate is interrupting scheduled class, challenge the student to come back later with a well prepared argument and engage with the debate.