The Soapbox Papers

The Soapbox Papers is my two-cents worth.

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Location: Beloit, Wisconsin, United States

I am a cross between Tinkerbell and Calamity Jane.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005


I suppose my age is showing again. It's gotten so I am proud of it, though. Lord knows I've earned the thick streaks of platinum blonde in my hair and the "expression" lines on my face. It used to be that one was respected just for having been born lo, those many years ago. "Respect your elders!" we were taught. After all, we have years of experience on our side, and even if we don't know all the latest technology, we do know a thing or two about living.

Well, in one little town in England, that is not what the schools are teaching. In Wellingborough it's okay for school children to cuss out their teachers. Not just grumble something in a moment of frustration, but up to five times. Not only does the teacher have to put up with the humiliation of that show of disrespect, but he/she must keep track of the number of times the cuss word is used during that class period - and keep a tally on the chalkboard! (If the limits are exceeded, the class will be "spoken to") The article does not mention if the teachers are allowed to cuss back at the kids - but I would think that, even if such was allowed, few teachers would actually do it. They know the wisdom of restraint.

I am aware that many of the words that are offensive to me have fallen into such common useage that kids don't think twice about saying them no matter where they are. I remember when my boys' language suddenly started to be peppered with cuss words. I took the older one aside and told him that I understood that is how guys talk among themselves, but that such words should not be spoken around older people (mothers in particular) and ladies. My son, nearly 13 at the time, told me he knew lots of girls who used such words. I told him it was then up to him to decide who was a lady and who was not. He learned judgement that day, he learned respect, and he learned restraint. His language has never offended me since.

Things are different now. Young people seldom have to wait for anything. Never have to exercise much patience. Never have to think about offending others - no one is teaching them. And then, in Wellingsborough they get the go-ahead to disrespect their teachers (up to five times a class session) and someone actually thinks that's all right.

It isn't all right. You know it and I know it. If a kid can't learn restraint in his language, how will he learn restraint in his actions, in his angers, in the injustices that befall us all?


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