Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Kwikie Kimmie Tweeter Thirsty.

The Misery Tweeter is blowing up with gleeful students reporting on first day proffie cursing. Some are over the moon at all the 'shit' and 'fuck' flying around.

Q: Any problem with casual cursing in a college class? Are there certain parameters where you would or would not approve of a colleague? In your own class?


  1. I'm an old-style prude when it comes to professional communication. I have let a very few impolite words slip during my years of teaching, but it's nothing like a routine or casual thing. As an old-style prude, while some faculty believe that sort of thing is 'humanizing' and 'relateable' and 'no longer a big deal', I can only believe that they believe it, not that it's really effective.

    Historians tend to be pretty old-fashioned, style-wise. Jackets and ties, assigning whole books, expecting students to read and write extensively... traditionalists, basically.

  2. I don't feel like an old-style prude, but I may be one. I agree with Jonathan above. I also find that the biggest cursers in my department also spend a good deal of time being the "cool" professors. It's something that seems inauthentic and wholly manufactured.

    I don't have a problem with cursing; for fuck's sake, look where I am!

    But I've got sweet students from small town Ohio to consider and rarely in my line of work - which is all about words! - is a curse necessary. Except for maybe Zounds! I like that one, and rarely anyone is bothered by it.

    1. Oh, and brava to Kimmie on the Tweeter feed...loving it.

  3. I agree with Hiram, potty-mouthed profs are trying too hard to be cool and probably dating undergrads on the sneak. We are some of the best-trained communicators anywhere; let's not pretend we don't know how to code-switch.

  4. Count me as another non-curser (well, unless somebody accidentally slams the door on my finger, in which case it will become clear that I do have a -- somewhat limited -- cursing vocabulary, and will use it when in extremis). I do occasionally quote Anne Lamott on the subject of "shitty first drafts," and happily assign literature that contains "adult" language when it fits course objectives (because college students are adults, and people do curse), but I don't think I've ever deliberately cursed in class, in my own voice. I don't think anybody should be fired for doing it, but I do think it's less than professional, and also tends to lose effect pretty quickly (by contrast, since I don't usually say "shitty" in class, students tend to titter, and to remember my point, when I quote Lamott).

  5. I have students examine a Nazi memorandum that discusses extermination vans and includes the phrases "fluid liquids" and "large pieces of dirt" as euphemisms for piss and shit. When students don't get past the euphemisms and figure out what the memo is really about (as is often the case), I use the real words to drive the point home...but otherwise, I rarely cuss in class.

  6. Didn't you get the memo, Kimmie? We've all known since at least the '80s that tenure can be revoked in short order for sexual harassment.

    Thanks to the folks who gave you trigger warnings, salty language is now considered sexual harassment. This trumps academic freedom or freedom of speech, and no warnings will be given. University faculty may no longer use, in the classroom or anywhere else on the job, any of the seven words you can't say on TV: "shit," "piss," "fuck," "cunt," "cocksucker," "motherfucker," and "tits"---and "tits" doesn't even belong on the list, man.

    So, the next time a classroom demo does something it isn't supposed to do and threatens to decapitate a student in the front row, or me, I need to remember not to emit a "FUCK!" I am not looking forward to it.

  7. I don't think I've cussed in front of the classroom intentionally. I probably have used a salty word or two in an informal conversation with a student or two, but it's rare. At my joint, it is de rigueur to model being as much in control of one's self as the situation, at least in interactions with clients ^H^H^H^H students.

    I've also tempered my language in speaking to colleagues. I can tell by their body language that some of them just don't like certain words, so I spare them the distraction; I can make my point just as effectively in other ways with those individuals. Others thrive on profanity, so in the privacy of our offices or conference rooms, we don't hold back on using whatever word the fucking situation calls for.

    I agree with Kate about code-switching etc., which means I agree recursively with Hiram and Jonathan. I also agree with Frod and Cass about how certain circumstances should render use of profanity wholly forgivable.