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Most students indifferent to cursing in class

Connor Nagel, a sophomore chemistry major, thinks he has a liberal take on swearing but that there is a time and place for it.

“I think it’s sort of the same way it goes with a job; you’re not supposed to do that in a public area,” Nagel said. “It’s always kind of been  taboo.”

For Associate Professor Stephen Crowley of the Philosophy Department, swearing is just a part of life.

“I come from a culture where there is more cussing,” Crowley said.

Being raised in Australia and having spent time in Europe, swearing sounds normal to Crowley.

“My basic view is that Idahoans must be the politest, ‘non-swearingest’ folk I know,” Crowley said.

Though when Crowley hears cursing in the classroom, he has a different

“You have to first make sure that it hasn’t bent anyone else out of shape, because that’s really bad,” Crowley said.

Crowley noted that learning is something people won’t respond to if they are stressed. So when a classroom setting is stressful for students they won’t receive and retain the new information as well as they would if the classroom setting was comfortable.

“Swearing means that everyone is feeling really comfortable,” Crowley said. “Comfortable people are engaged people.”

Crowley noted that this isn’t always the case.

“On the other hand, cursing can sometimes make stress, which means the learning environment is down the tubes,”
Crowley said.

So when students are cursing in the classroom, Crowley evaluates the scenario to decide how to respond.

“This is either really good or really bad,” Crowley said. “I have to work out which one it is fast.”

Crowley judges the reaction of the class to cursing by acknowledging everyone’s body language. Students are used to figuring out what people are thinking by studying their facial and vocal expressions.

“And, like anything, it works better in a group of six or 15 than it does in a group of 35,” Crowley said.

Niether Crowley nor Brian Kierland, associate professor of philosophy, address cursing specifically in their syllabi, but they have never had a problem with it, so they see no need to change it.

In Kierland’s syllabus, however, he has a guideline that says, “do your part in maintaining a learning friendly classroom,” which he believes covers any potential issue that could arise from cursing.

“I would expect that at some point it (cursing) would start to offend some other students,” Kierland said. “I don’t think anything is really gained by the cursing and it would distract other students so I would ask them to tone it down.”

Laura Winslow, sophomore marketing major, thinks swearing comes off as unintelligent, though it doesn’t offend her.

“We’re all 20-something year olds; we’ve heard a couple swear words here and there,” Winslow said.

Winslow adds that cursing in the classroom has never even crossed
her mind.

“I just generally don’t cuss,” Winslow said.

Though neither Kierland nor Crowley have ever had severe issues with students cursing in their classroom, sophomore Travis Scranton, a business marketing major, had a friend who had a bad experience in the classroom.

“A friend of mine was sworn at,” Scranton said.

He found this highly inappropriate and said he feels swearing in the classroom in general is

Kierland, however, has an experiment in class where he uses swearing to his

“If you don’t do it very often people respond to it,” Kierland said. “Sometimes I intentionally throw in a curse word because it helps to get students attention.”

In one of Kierland’s examples in class he described a thought experiment to his students which involves them thinking “what the fuck,” Kierland said when he throws in that line he always gets the class’ focus.

About keelymills (0 Articles)
Keely Mills is a senior communication major with a media production emphasis at Boise State. When Mills isn't writing or reading, she plays musical instruments such as the drums, guitar, piano, and accordion. Mills is always ready for travel and for learning new things. Follow her on twitter, @PelozaJ and check out her photos at