|low graphics version | feedback | help|
|You are in: Talking Point|
Tuesday, 20 March, 2001, 08:27 GMT
Should there be zero tolerance on swearing?
A school's policy of zero tolerance on swearing has meant one headteacher has signed 60 pupil exclusion orders since taking up his post in September.
Paul Templeman-Wright, head of Beverley School in New Malden in Surrey, is hoping that his actions will remove what he calls the "language of the street" from the classroom.
He claims to have the backing of parents and school governors and says that there is no place for bad language in the nation's classrooms.
But is he overreacting? Should swearing remain a normal part of everyday life? Or does the toleration of bad language give out the wrong signals and encourage thuggish behaviour?
This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.
Sixty children are being deprived of their education for no other reason than saying the wrong words. And yet from the look of the comments on this page, the moral majority (who incidentally are neither), think this is a triumph for common sense. This is a gross attack on civil rights and freedom of speech and Paul Templeman-Wright should be ashamed to call himself an educator.
I am a retired English teacher of 30
years. Language mirrors the morality
of the times and the
demise of English into Slangish is a strong indication of
where we are headed.
Some words come and
go, but complete sentences remain.
I am a student at Beverley School and am utterly disgusted with the behaviour of the teachers' reactions to swearing. Have they ever sworn in their profession and got suspended for it? (I think not!)
Could it be that this headteacher is simply trying to find an excuse for his lack of skill and that of his staff in controlling the children at his school?
Swear words appear in the Oxford English dictionary. Are the 'ban-it-brigade' going to get that banned as well?
Perhaps Mr Paul Templeman-Wright should be the one who is kicked out of the school not the kids.
If you try to ban swearing that makes it doubly cool, plus there is a human rights aspect to the right to express yourself as you wish. Censorship never works.
I think that excluding 60 pupils was an over-reaction. Teenagers are going to swear because it has always been around them. I think that if the language is being used within a group of friends in a normal conversation then it is perfectly fine. If on the other hand it is being used offensively then maybe the students should be INTERNALLY suspended.
A. Ellis, UK
I would hope the school in question is restricting the teaching of books and plays containing bad language or dirty jokes as well to demonstrate that this sort of thing has no place in learning or culture. After all it's probably better that students don't read people like Joyce or Shakespeare.
My children frequently complain of swearing and crude language at school, mostly during play times when the playground staff take a dismissive attitude and don't listen to those subjected to the language. I myself don't swear around my children and resent the fact that they are hearing it from children as young as five at school.
Personally, I feel that the standards of behaviour accepted in schools have dramatically fallen in the last 20 years. Children at our local school come out dropping litter, lighting cigarettes up and swearing at the tops of their voices. Teachers cannot touch them and boy do those kids know it!
I feel that swearing in the Britain has outgrown any moral culture that once existed in the country. Is it not time for the Church to move towards some sort of moral high ground again in the UK to try and regain some sort of decorum? Come on Britain pull your socks up!
There is nothing wrong with swearing "per se", but we should be sensitive to other people around us who might be offended. In other words, to expel a child from school for swearing is wrong, but to expel them for, say, swearing at their teacher, would be more reasonable.
Am I getting old here??? When I was in school back in the early 80's there was ZERO tolerance of swearing, by either teacher or pupil. In fact it could lead to a visit to the headteacher and a few strokes of the cane for your troubles. Before people jump up and assume I was enrolled in a grammar school, this was a London comprehensive with all the normal problems that came along.
As a Christian I hate swearing. I feel it should become as anti-social as smoking or drink driving. Any person caught swearing in public should be fined £100 on the spot and be placed in prison for a week.
Doesn't this kind of ban violate human rights especially freedom of speech?
Chris Zouch, England
I am sad and sorry to say that I myself do let the odd swear word slip out. This however, is not due to the media or 'idols' but rather is a part of our everyday environment. Yes, a classroom should have its restrictions and formalities but the more you say to children 'don't' the more they will continue to do so.
What a boring society we will become when we have eradicated all kinds of diversity of culture, activity and thought.
Rob is incorrect to assume that coarse language leads to coarse behaviour, since there is no evidence that the two are inextricably linked. On the other hand, it is my belief that undesirable and anti-social behaviour has its roots in the use of coercive force by the State to control society. The imposition of order, by an external force, on any chaotic system always leads to disorder and society is no exception to this fundamental law of the universe.
I have moved to this country from South Africa and am disgusted by the amount of swearing that goes on in the UK. Strangely, although there is considerable physical violence in South Africa, children especially are far less likely to swear there than they are here.
Not many of us would want to put up with being sworn at in our places of work - not by customers or colleagues. Kids should be taught that swearing is not appropriate in many settings - but exclusion seems a step too far.
Stuart Purdie, UK
Quite frankly I think it's a gross overreaction,
Swearing may be inappropriate use of the English language, but I challenge that headmaster to
enter any workplace in the UK and not come across some use of expletives.
He should be coming down hard on more serious issues
like bullying and drugs.
Swearing is just another manifestation of uncivil behaviour, the tolerance of which is at the root of many of society's ills. Sadly it is now all but impossible to shield children from hearing bad language, but swearing, like other bad behaviour, should be absolutely forbidden in school. It certainly was in my day (not that long ago!)
Being a seventeen year old doing A-levels at my school, I can understand where Mr Templeman-Wright is coming from. But what I want to know is whether he is excluding pupils who needlessly swear for which I believe they should perhaps be suspended or is he excluding those who swear for good reason such as they have walked 3 miles to school and left their coursework at home?
The original meanings of many Anglo-Saxon words which are currently considered to be bad language were no different to the meanings of their (now more socially acceptable) French or Latin-derived alternatives. It doesn't matter which word is used, what matters is the meaning. Likening someone to a private part of the body or waste matter is offensive regardless of the terminology used. This school thing is just another symptom of New Labour's politically correct style-over-content syndrome.
Kids are always going to swear. And besides, it's better than shooting, isn't it?
I hold my hands up as a swearer and I really don't think that the odd, well-chosen expletive does any harm whatsoever. But what this teacher has done is right for two reasons. Firstly, it's a sad day when your entire vocabulary is based around variations of one word. And secondly, the classroom should be a haven of decorum.
I imagine there will be lots of comments from people saying that it's only words, what harm can it do, and he is overreacting. Personally I'm right behind it. There can be no doubt whatsoever that coarse language leads to coarse behaviour and the slide from there is inevitable. Somebody somewhere has to make a stand. At the very least it will prove an interesting social experiment won't it? Let's see what the results are.
Andy Millward, UK
Swear words can sometimes enrich, sometime impoverish the language. When they are used occasionally, they add emphasis and allow some release of pent up feelings. What's depressing is people who appear to know only one adjective which tends to appear before every noun in their conversation.
I think, on the whole, the proportion of the population who are actually offended is going down all the time.
Quite frankly I think it's a gross overreaction
The beauty of the English language is that there are so many ways to thoroughly express oneself without resorting to profanity. That said, I am as guilty as anyone in using the occasional swear word for effect, though I have absolute zero tolerance in hearing it from my kids! One realises that it may be the common currency of the schoolyard, but I don't want to hear it in the home (or my earshot). Of more import, if one doesn't know "how" to use it, then one should refrain from doing so until maturity and the rise of personal discipline develop. Otherwise, it simply reflects the conveyor's place in the scope of things ... "gutter snipe"!
08 Mar 01 | Education
Pupils suspended for swearing
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites
Other Talking Points:
Links to more Talking Point stories
|^^ Back to top
News Front Page | World | UK | UK Politics | Business | Sci/Tech | Health | Education | Entertainment | Talking Point | In Depth | AudioVideo
To BBC Sport>> | To BBC Weather>>
© MMIII | News Sources | Privacy