Flying F-boms

Harold F. Schiffman haroldfs at
Wed Aug 31 12:21:09 UTC 2005

>>From the Lebanon Daily News, Lebanon PA

Article Last Updated: 8/30/2005 12:05 PM

Flying 'f-bombs'

Theres plenty of weirdness to be found in American schools. But a new
policy in a British school is arguably the oddest school rule weve ever
come across. Not that theres anything good to say about it.  The Weavers
School in Wellingborough, Northamptonshire, will allow its 15- and
16-year-old students a substantial amount of leeway when it comes to
verbalizing their displeasure with their teachers. In fact, the school
will allow the use of five f-bombs per class per lesson to be directed at
the instructor. There will be a running tally maintained, and if a class
gets a little too liberal in its use of bad language, theyll be spoken to
by the teacher, according to the Daily Mail in London.

We wonder if theyll be spoken to in the same manner that they choose to
speak to the teacher. Likely not. The official policy, the newspaper
reported, is that within each lesson the teacher will initially tolerate
(although not condone) the use of the f-word (or derivatives) five times.
The plan came about, apparently, in reaction to two particularly
ill-behaved classes, according to the report. Another initiative that will
dovetail with the profanity use will be that of the school sending praise
postcards home to the parents of children who are punctual for lessons and
who dont swear at the teacher.

The newspaper cited parents as saying the plan was irresponsible and
ludicrous, but it also quoted the school headmaster denying that he had
received any direct complaints from those looking after the gaggles of
foul-mouthed kids. Showing a good grasp of teenage psychology, Nick
Seaton, chairman of the Campaign for Real Education, argued against the
policy, noting correctly, Youngsters will play up to this and ensure they
use their five goes, demeaning the authority of the teacher.

Headmaster Alan Large argued that the f-word is part of young adults'
everyday language. However, one function of maturity is knowing when such
language can be used (its never truly appropriate, but there are times
when its use can be more expected than others.) And its never appropriate
to use such a base term when addressing an individual ostensibly in a
position of authority, such as a teacher. Try it on your boss; on the
police officer walking his beat; on a parent.  Chances are one wouldnt get
five goes before something unfortunate occurs a walk to the unemployment
office, a couple hours in a holding cell or a substantial reduction in
privileges. The policy made the global news wires, and it should. Anything
this loony deserves derision on a wide scale, but we'll hold off on the

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