NAME-CALLING IN THE CLASSROOM

WE CAN DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT


Everyday we hear names echo down the corridors of our schools and explode in our classrooms. Maybe it's happened to us, maybe it hasn't. We certainly can sense the pain and humiliation of the children, and sometimes we can see their anger.

Insults take many forms. They all hurt. Racial, ethnic, and sexual slurs are particularly abusive because they reflect a history of oppression. Therefore there is more power to inflict damage with such slurs. Do children need to be reminded that they are members of a denigrated class?

Sometimes slurs don't even get recognized as being hurtful and may be considered socially acceptable. Many young people use terms such as “nigger,” “epic,” “faggot,” “lezbo,” and “queer” because they know the effectiveness of their hurtful nature. The use of slurs attacks another's self-esteem and teaches young people that hatred of one group is condoned by our society.
As educators, it falls on us to create a cooperative learning environment where students are safe to express themselves in all their diversity. It is also the responsibility of educators to teach children that diversity is something to be celebrated rather than ridiculed.




EXERCISE FOR ESTABLISHING CLASSROOM RULES

Even without a Code of Discipline, name-calling can be controlled within the classroom using the following exercise:
You can control behavior in your classroom. It you react immediately to any transgressions, students will feel safe in the classroom.


ESTABLISH A CODE OF DISCIPLINE

*Taken from Name Calling, Equity Institute, Inc. Box 458 Amherst, Mass. 01004

See the Model Anti-Harassment Policy published by the American Civil Liberties Union at www.aclu.org/issues/gay/schoolpolicy.html