D***, What A Prude

, , , , , | Learning | February 21, 2021

I work as a substitute teacher. One day, I’m working in a fifth-grade classroom — the students are about ten years old — and it’s story time. Their teacher has been reading a book out loud, and I’m supposed to read the next chapter to the class.

The book is a young adult novel, with a few swear words here and there. For example, a character says, “D***, that was close,” after escaping a bad situation.

The first time I get to a swear word, I pause and ask the kids if they are okay hearing swear words as part of the story. The kids agree that they’re okay with it, so I continue reading, swear words and all.

A few days later, I’m subbing at the same school but for a different teacher. The teacher I subbed for earlier storms up to me before school begins.

Teacher: “Why did you teach my students swear words?”

Me: “Um… I don’t know what you’re talking about. I didn’t teach them any swear words.”

Teacher: “My students said that you swore during story time.”

Me: “Oh, that? I was only reading the story. I even asked the kids if they were okay with me reading the swear words, and they said they were.”

Teacher: “Well, they’re not okay with it! I never use swear words with my students. I make up silly words when I read to them.”

Me: “You never said anything in your lesson plans about that, so I didn’t know.”

Teacher: “They’re fifth-graders! They’re too young to hear swearing. I shouldn’t need to write it in my lesson plans!”

Me: “Mrs. [Teacher], with all due respect, the kids said they were okay with hearing swear words, and they knew what every one of those words meant. I understand that they’re not learning those words from you, but they’re learning them somewhere.”

Teacher: “Then they lied to you! Fifth-graders are too young to know swear words. Now you ruined everything because the kids asked me why I don’t swear when I read the story.”

Me: “Okay. I’m sorry for misunderstanding, and if I sub for you again, I’ll make sure not to swear when I read a story to the kids. I’ll use words like dang or shoot, instead, and—”

Teacher:No! That’s no good, because it’s too close to actual swearing! You have to make up random silly words like dibbydabby or swizzlesticks!”

The bell rang to start for class just then, so I just turned and walked away from her. I never did get called to sub for her class again, so I really hope her students are doing okay.

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