The GEM Debate:
The “N” Word; Should This Teacher Be Suspended?
The N-word. Highly-charged and not going away, people. It’s like when you go to a foreign country and the first thing you want to learn is the bad words. In America one of the first words people learn starts with “N” and ends with a whole lot of trouble.
That’s what this Chicago teacher is finding out. Seems some students were passing a note with rap lyrics containing the N-word and Lincoln Brown intercepted it. He then tried to use the incident as a “teachable moment” by discussing the use of the word in the context of our culture and even used the book “Huckleberry Finn” as reference. The principal and the school district found the use of the word offensive and suspended Brown.
I, for one, am so tired of people acting like this word is not festering within and filtering into our children’s everyday world. Like Brown said in the article, “It’s ridiculous to believe that sixth-graders aren’t exposed to this language, not only in music but in their everyday lives.” And for those who haven’t been exposed, wouldn’t it be a great thing to have a teacher sensitively explain the use of the word than to have your sixth grader hear it on the street and look to his friends to help them figure it out? Or Heaven forbid they hear it in a lyric and take THAT contextually as something they should use casually on a daily basis as they refer to their friends and family?
I can’t see any part of the principal’s or the school district’s side of this. Unless they have some policy that states that all subject matter must be approved prior to presenting it in class, I’m flabbergasted. It seems that life lessons aren’t being taught in the classroom anymore. Teachers are teaching or are being forced to teach only that which will get students to pass certain standardized tests and that’s it. I, however, remember the teachers who taught me a little more than the books offered and would hope my children have the good fortune to get a few of these educators along the way. Can you imagine how excited you would be if your child came home and said, “Mommy/Daddy, we learned about how words can hurt people. Do you know what words we shouldn’t use and why? Oh, and I learned a little bit about America’s ugly history today, too”? I’d be pretty impressed. And I don’t see one parent comment within this article complaining about what the teacher taught, and we all know how rare that can be.
So what do you think? Am I completely wrong here? Do you agree with the principal and school board? Would you rather deal with these things in your own home or are you looking to the schools to actually teach your children more than how to pass a test?
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