Henry Hepburn

Why we should teach students how and when to swear

The use of swear words can provoke a visceral response and is usually considered a no-no in the classroom. But are we doing our students any favours by banning ‘bad’ language or should teachers’ approach to expletives be more nuanced? Henry Hepburn reports

Should we teach students how and when to swear?

Consider this your final warning: there will be swearing in this article – and lots of it. If you are offended by that sort of language, you may want to look away. However, arguably, you are the very people who need to read it most. So, if you can suspend your offence for just a few minutes, what follows will likely prove useful to you.

Teachers know the power of linguistic transgressions more than most. A cuss is a weapon in schools, thrown out in the middle of a lesson to shock, disrupt, amuse or aggravate. When it happens, everyone knows that a line has been crossed, and everyone wants ...

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