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Did a Prince George's teacher cross the line?

A history class in Prince George's County got an unexpected lesson this week.

A parent said that her son's eighth-grade class at Drew Freeman Middle School in Suitland was asked to define such words as "bastard," "wuss" and other commonly used derogatory terms. News of the incident was first reported on WUSA Channel 9.

Trimble said that the teacher appeared to have been removed from the classroom after she and other parents complained. Her son told her that a substitute taught the class Thursday. Read the full article.

By Jodi Westrick  |  September 3, 2010; 1:33 PM ET  | Category:  Local Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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I didn't think it was over the line because these are words that the kids are exposed to every day either at school, home, or on TV. I'm sure there is a context in which the teacher presented this information.

Posted by: linroy62 | September 3, 2010 2:25 PM

This helps explain why Prince George's schools are failing.

If teaching the meaning of common words is prohibited, how are the students supposed to learn to read or think?

Posted by: dcrussell | September 3, 2010 4:00 PM

This teacher probably should have run this idea by her principal; but 8th-graders hear these types of words all of the time. And even if this or other parents don't like the assignment, they should simmer down and give the teacher a break. This teacher was trying to do something creative and provocative--something that would actually get the children engaged and learning something meaningful. So calm down, parents. Your kids will be alright. They've got a teacher who cares. Work with the teachers, not against them, to resolve your differences. The parent quoted in this article has an attitude problem, if you asked me. I wouldn't want to teach her child in school. Too much trouble.

Posted by: sannhet | September 3, 2010 4:00 PM

Gee....I hate to get inappropriate or cross the line, heaven forbid, but some parents are idiots (some are, apparently, real bastards as well)and some administrators in chicken little mode are simply wusses. I'll bet my fortune that the kid(s) of the objecting parent(s) already knew the words and had probably used them....we're talking 8th grade here, not 8 yrs old! Way to go, Prince George's!!!

Posted by: demetz5050 | September 3, 2010 4:17 PM

Do people even know what the words mean these days? After all an accurate definition of "bastard" is "the child of a unwed mother" but in this age of the single parent that is hardly the usage. And "wuss"? I know the usage but not the definition. The teen years are the highwater mark for peer pressure. A discussion of what they are calling each other is spot on!

Posted by: jamescriner | September 3, 2010 4:18 PM

Too many parents DO NOT talk to their kids at home. My daughter has a fit when I sign permission slips for her to participate in these types of discussions. She tells me that since we talk about these things at home she should not have to participate at school. It is because I talk to her at home that I think she has something to share. While I don't know what was taught, I applaud this teacher for starting a much needed discussion. If children were raised to respect themselves first, and others always then teachers could teach and not babysit!

Posted by: techvscommonsense | September 3, 2010 5:59 PM

Isn't learning what words mean and understanding how and why they are used what education is all about? Why can't the school system see that their reaction is a genuine "teaching moment" that highlights how far we are willing to go to pretend that unpleasant truths aren't "out there"? Let's have more respect for our teachers and students' capability to engage in real discussion and useful learning. If not in the 8th grade, when would it be appropriate for such a discussion to occur?

Posted by: petegregor | September 3, 2010 6:21 PM

How about teaching them reading, writing, and arithmatic insread of social engineering. Those who say they are teaching tolerance should explain why there is little to no tolerance for those who think different from oneself. For example, Republicans, conservatives, Christians, Jews, and white Americans are called bigots, racists, and worse. Where's the tolerance there? No, they are brain washing children to their way of thinking. What the children are learning is to be hypocrites.

Posted by: lk20850 | September 3, 2010 6:29 PM

Reading, writing and arithmetic are not the only subjects that are taught at the 8th grade level. As noted, this was in a HISTORY class. Social Studies is the area where this sort of lesson is appropriately taught. I simply cannot imagine what this parent's problem is! I'm also not sure what the poster who is opposed is saying. How is this hypocritical? Many children who use these words don't understand the significance of them. The example referencing "Republicans, conservatives, Christians, Jews and white Americans" shows exactly WHY everyone should be taught the meaning of words they hear every day and what tolerance means!

Posted by: purplemuse | September 3, 2010 7:51 PM

While this report lacks detail, from what is presented here I absolutely stand by this teacher. If "bastard" and "wuss" are the "worst" words assigned, the teacher did not cross the line into inappropriate language for middle-school students. Sounds like a great teacher with a great lesson plan - and a parent looking for something to complain about.

Posted by: RoadWarrior1 | September 3, 2010 8:35 PM

Wuss: a person who is weak,ineffectual,

Bastard: a person who is irratating or obnoxious, very unpleasant jerk

Posted by: mikepost1 | September 3, 2010 9:26 PM

Teachers like this are great teachers, and this is why principals and school superintendents hate them. Great teachers do unexpected things, and teach children things they need to know, but are things that can't be tested on or measured.

Mediocre teachers, on the other hand, go only by the book and don't deviate from thier instructions. Principals and school superintendents love them, since they give no trouble and never ever do anything unexpected. And their students learn to memorize for the test, then forget what they learned but never understood.

So yes, this teacher should be fired, if not burned at the stake, for being a good teacher. We don't want people like that teaching our children who will teach them necessary things, and help them understand what they use. We want fools who teach fools, and who foolishly follow foolish rules.

The principal was a wuss for not defending the teacher, and the parents are bastards who want to defend their child's ignorance.

At least, the 6th grade children understand that lesson, even if the principal and the parents remain clueless.

Posted by: LeeH1 | September 3, 2010 9:47 PM

The infuriating thing about half-baked polls like this one is that there is no context to the news story upon which people are asked to vote. Next time, give us a little information, and an informed comment may result.

Posted by: sailmaker1943 | September 3, 2010 10:23 PM

The infuriating thing about half-baked polls like this one is that there is no context to the news story upon which people are asked to vote. Next time, give us a little information, and an informed comment may result.

Posted by: sailmaker1943 | September 3, 2010 10:24 PM

I am not sure. I think some of the words used for this lesson were Bastard,Pu**y-Whipped, Son of a Bitch,Wimp,and Wuss.

These words are very inappropriate in my opinion, even if this young man has heard or used these words before.

why should a 13-year old child define the word Pu**ywhipped? This is crazy to even try to find some educational lesson in this word and the word Son of a Bitch.

If our school systems really want to teach our child something, teach them about the one who created them but you are not allowed to discuss in schools. The one that gives us life, he is the beginning and the end GOD.

The mother of this young man has my support. If the words bastard and wuss are the only words used then I would feel different. When looking at this on the news, you can see on his paper the word SOB and I heard someone say pu**ywhipped is another word that was used from the teacher for this lesson.

Mother I will keep you and your family and the children and the teacher in my prayers.

Posted by: harmony60 | September 3, 2010 11:00 PM

I have several bastards in my toolbox. They are also sometimes called rasps or files.

Posted by: lostinthemiddle | September 3, 2010 11:10 PM

It's not going to harm the kids to have to spend some time thinking about the consequences of insulting language, much less on understanding what it is.

Posted by: Nymous | September 4, 2010 12:22 AM

Wuss is short for "wussy," which is a combination of a woman + p*ssy.

Posted by: bendan2000 | September 4, 2010 1:09 AM

wuss = wimp + p***sy, that's what I remember.

Posted by: eezmamata | September 4, 2010 2:07 AM

Parents are idiots.
Parents just have to learn, they love their kids more than their kids love them. It has always been so.

Posted by: morphex | September 4, 2010 3:11 AM

...wuss: part wimp, and part pu$$y.

- Mike Damone, Fast Times At Ridgemont High

Posted by: buckdharma | September 4, 2010 3:33 AM

Pussy is short for pusillanimous meaning cowardly. Why are we so quick to equate such words with derogatory terms for a woman's anatomy. The next thing you know, some public official might get into trouble for properly using the word "tit" in a public forum.

Posted by: Tamatoman | September 4, 2010 9:34 AM

The word is part of our history.

Sure, they should understand it's origins and definition.

I hope they learn the origin and definition of all words used regularly in life... even if they chose to use them or not.

I mean really, it really just boils down to thought control.

What? we want the kids not to realize that we know these words, study them... try to reduce their significance and use in society?

Isn't the best answer to educate them?

Posted by: docwhocuts | September 4, 2010 10:25 AM

Americans are wusses. Without your B2 bombers, Hellfire missiles and eyes in the sky -- man to man -- you'd get your asses kicked by half the warrior classes in the world.

Posted by: politbureau | September 4, 2010 10:29 AM

This situation is becoming ever more common in the USA - the alleged land of the free - where free speech isn't anymore because 'someone' might be offended - and it's more important to avoid offense than it is to speak freely and truthfully. America, bless it's bleeding soul, has more laws than any other country in the world - including Russia - and more prisoners than any other country in the world. How long will it be before teachers not only get fired, but get jailed for being creative, innovative, imaginative, provocative and just plain old good teachers?

Posted by: Kaelinda1 | September 4, 2010 10:48 AM

The teacher was probably asking for her own information. If you think you can teach ANY eight grader new derogatory terms, sexual references, or scatological phrases you haven't been around eighth graders lately.

Posted by: IGiveup1 | September 4, 2010 10:51 AM

If I had to guess, I'd say she was using the exercise to see if students KNEW what the words really meant...since 8th graders (and 6th graders, for that matter...) use these words (and far worse) on a regular basis. It's unfortunate that parents are so pretentious as to believe their little darlings aren't hearing these words in their music, TV and movies - let alone from their sainted parents. High time someone taught them (in an objective fashion) to use them correctly rather than ignorantly slinging them around as insults.

Posted by: kalliope61 | September 4, 2010 5:09 PM

Without any context at all, it's hard to judge. I do think that a teacher should be able to find something more useful to teach the kids.

The youth of today doesn't need to be taught these words.

They need to be taught how to read.

In fact, they need to be taught how to dress themselves.

What our education system really needs is an intensive program of courses designed to teach kids the proper use and function of a belt, the difference between underwear and pants and why no one wants to see their nasty skivvies in public.

I've pretty much reconciled myself to the fact that the next generation is going to as dumb as dirt. It's probably too late to do much about that, but at least this way, we won't have to see their butts all the time.

Posted by: andrew23boyle | September 4, 2010 11:21 PM

School is a place of business. Teachers and administrators are there to prepare our children for a future in the world. It has always been my feeling as a teacher that I wanted my students to respect themselves and others. I taught my students that there is a way to behave and speak at work/school. If we abandon such things as good manners, caring for each other and taking care of our surroundings, we will be living in complete chaos. The school building is already hard enough to manage. Please don't make it worse by introducing fowl language into the mix.

I dont know the reason the teacher felt the need to bring this into her lesson. I can assure you it was not a part of the county mandated curriculum. Teachers let's get back to teaching our children to say, "excuse me,thank-you, please and may I". Teach them to clean up their area, push in their chairs and to be kind to one another and you won't need to teach the meaning of those words. I did it and it is not hard to do. My colleagues always say to me "Your students can't wait to get to your class." I really believe it's because they feel safe and respected by all.

Posted by: meg14655 | September 5, 2010 12:17 AM

I dont know the reason the teacher felt the need to bring this into her lesson. I can assure you it was not a part of the county mandated curriculum.
Are you the county literature administrator? You don't know what is going on. 8th grade books contain all sorts of foul words. If her students think a "bastard" is a mean boy, which is what they think, then the teacher SHOULD define the word, so the kids know the power of that and other words.

Posted by: HookedOnThePost | September 5, 2010 2:10 AM

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