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First Graders and the F-Bomb

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This blog is another sure sign I'm getting old (as if the mirror and the night sweats weren't proof enough).

I'm starting to feel sorry for the poor guy who will be in the room next to me at the nursing home (roughly 6 months from now). For his sake I hope he's not bedridden.

Things are changing and at the exact same time I'm slowing down.

Way down.

Even my complaining is becoming less frequent.

I'm starting to appreciate "the good old days." Sure, I know they were crappier than I want to admit, but they're all I got.

My career in education is roughly half over (barring an "incident"... like it might not happen).

I have seen education change in the last 15 years.

Copiers have improved. Typewriters have disappeared. Male teachers no longer wear ties. And second hand smoke is no longer engulfing the teacher's lounge.

These are just a few examples of how schools aren't what they used to be.

And that's okay.

Most of the changes I've experienced are for the better.

Most. Not all (if they were all for the better... I wouldn't have a blog, now would I?)

One of the things I've noticed is students' language has gotten worse.

And by worse, I mean a lot lot worse.

In particular, the F-Bomb.

When I was a kid (the 1920s seem just like yesterday), if you heard the F-Word it was shocking.

It was an event.

It meant an adult was angry. Or insane. Or both.

Only convicted felons, gas station attendants, and drunks used this type of language.

Now it's become commonplace.

You hear it at the movies (I'm talking about at the concession stand).

You hear it at high school games (in the bleachers by adults who should know better).

You hear it everywhere but church.

And now you are starting to hear it at school.

Fifteen years ago I might have been shocked if it came out of a high school student's mouth.

Ten years ago a junior high student could have gotten my attention by dropping it.

Now? Any decent (or not) first grader can use it correctly in a sentence.

Or towards a classmate.

Or teacher.

Or parent.

Or a friendly superintendent (not me, I'm not friendly).

Or even direct an F Bomb outburst towards a policeman.

And first graders aren't just repeating it, they are USING it.

Loudly and in context.

By the time a first grader hits the playground they have heard the F Word a thousand times. 'm pretty sure we can thank cable TV and adults with bad judgment.

If I had to guess, I'd say most first graders don't even know it's a bad word.

It rolls off their tongue like Run Spot Run (I may have just dated myself with the Spot reference).

First graders seem to be getting less afraid of the consequences for their language.

I realize it's only a word, but I think it says something about us and our society when it's bandied about so easily and so publicly.

What really concerns me is what the future holds for these first graders.

If they don't have limits now, what happens when they are 18?

What will they say or do to shock us then?

We may have to come up with a new word for them because they already use all of the bad ones I know.

Email Michael Smith/principalspage at micsmith@principalspage.com