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teachers should not tell children to shut up or call them idiots as that is rude

(55 Posts)
jugofwildflowers Tue 19-Jul-11 11:55:26

At home, words like 'shut up' or 'idiot' or 'stupid' are not allowed as it is rude, my dc know this and so were shocked to hear members of staff including the Head at their primary school using these words at school.

I wrote to the school and told them I thought it was unacceptable. AIBU?

jugofwildflowers Tue 19-Jul-11 11:59:11

I'm not saying they can't ask the children to be quiet as discipline is very important, just like saying what they've done might be idiotic or stupid but that it's a whole different thing to call them an idiot or stupid per se.

CogitoErgoSometimes Tue 19-Jul-11 12:00:37

'Be quiet' is more pleasant than 'shut up' certainly. But if someone is being an 'idiot' or 'stupid', why shouldn't a head teacher remind them of it?.... They're perfectly legitimate words.

SquishyCinnamonSwirls Tue 19-Jul-11 12:02:03

I agree with you on the idiot and stupid - an action can be idiotic or stupid but not the child themselves imo.
However, in a room of 30 kids or so I would be very tempted to tell them all to shut up if they were particularly chatty and irritating!

lurkerspeaks Tue 19-Jul-11 12:03:04

Depends on the context - stupid behaviour and idiotic actions are condoned in my household.

Stupidity when associated with schoolwork (ie when kids are struggling to complete it) is a major no-no.

FilthyDirtyHeathen Tue 19-Jul-11 12:14:01

I would like to think that most intelligent adults would make the distinction between the 'actions' being defined as stupid and the person being defined as inherently stupid ie 'That was a very stupid thing to do' as opposed to 'You are a stupid boy'. I also think the frequency and intensity with which these words are being applied to a child is important. If they are hearing it about themselves every day from a parent or responsible adult then it is likely to stick in their head.

Personally, I try to avoid using words like this and I would be very unhappy if I thought my child's teacher was using them regularly. YWNBU for writing.

niceguy2 Tue 19-Jul-11 12:24:45

I agree it depends on the context.

"You are acting like an idiot" in my view is acceptable. I guess it's hardly polite but then it's not meant to be a polite sentence is it.

"Shut up" again is valid in the right context.

I think it's a bit OTT to expect nothing but compliments and platitudes from teachers. If your child is playing the idiot and/or overly noisy then teachers should be allowed to tell them so without having to dance around the politically correct handbag.

CogitoErgoSometimes Tue 19-Jul-11 12:27:14

My friend's DS's violin teacher called him a 'brat' he told me the other week. She's quite right. He is. smile

littlemisssarcastic Tue 19-Jul-11 12:29:26

DS's teacher used to call him a twat! shock

He was one of many DC she called 'twats'. shock

Salmotrutta Tue 19-Jul-11 12:29:44

Absolutely not on for a teacher to call a child an idiot or stupid. Not really acceptable to say that an action was stupid or idiotic either.
I can see, however, after a frazzled day with a very full class how easy it would be to tell a class to Shut Up. Much better not to though and to find an alternative, such as tapping the desk with a ruler/using a buzzer or other recognised signal to get attention.

reallytired Tue 19-Jul-11 12:31:57

"teachers should not tell children to shut up or call them idiots as that is rude"

In an ideal world that is totally true. However parents should bring up their children better so that don't misbehave in class.

With rights come responsiblity and many parents don't take any responsibility for their children's actions.

nagynolonger Tue 19-Jul-11 12:35:43

I think 'Shut up' said to a class or an individual DC if 'Please stop talking' or similar as not worked.

'Stupid' or similar if discribing a DC work is not OK, but if aimed at their behaviour then I can't see the problem. Also it does depend on the age of the DC. If they are very young and maybe don't understand fully 'kinder' words should be used, but for older DC who know the score stupid or idiotic when applied to their behaviour is acceptable.

Maryz Tue 19-Jul-11 12:36:49

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

CogitoErgoSometimes Tue 19-Jul-11 12:38:47

I love this kind of story. Schools these days are usually such havens of political correctness and personal development that it's nice to know there's at least one teacher out there still calling a spade a stupid spade. Quite seriously, I wonder what happens to all these deliciously protected children when they get out into the big bad world of work the first time someone calls them a far ruder word than an 'idiot' .... will they have a clue how to deal with it?

Salmotrutta Tue 19-Jul-11 12:40:00

Calling anyone stupid or idiotic in front of others (or one to one) is all about sneering at them or putting them down. If it's within the context of classroom work a better alternative is , for example, "I know this is a difficult task so we need to work at understanding it"
If a child (or anyone) embarks on a "stupid" action in the playground or whatever, surely it's better to say "Well Johnny/Jane, that could have been dangerous and someone could get hurt" or "Did you not stop to think about what would happen next?"
It's not hard to convey displeasure without resorting to insults really?

Bramshott Tue 19-Jul-11 12:40:45

Wouldn't bother me TBH, although it would depend on the context. "That was a stupid thing to do" is very different from "you're stupid".

PotteringAlong Tue 19-Jul-11 12:41:09

all depends on context
all depends on tone of voice
all depends on the pupil / teacher relationship

I have pupils I would say those things to and I have pupils I wouldn't and no one has ever taken offence. Teenagers are quick to tell you if they have smile

PotteringAlong Tue 19-Jul-11 12:42:19

and fully agree - "you're behaving like an idiot" is very different to "you're an idiot". Most teachers will only ever bring up the first with reference to behaviour

Takver Tue 19-Jul-11 12:44:30

Salmotrutta, that sounds great in theory, but have you really, truly, never said to your child/ren something along the lines of "WHAT THE BLOODY HELL DID YOU THINK YOU WERE DOING!!!"

OP - I think context is all . . . .

Salmotrutta Tue 19-Jul-11 12:44:40

I know what you mean Cogito but you get far more out of pupils if you treat them fairly and the old days of teachers putting pupils down and sneering at them are thankfully gone.

MamaLazarou Tue 19-Jul-11 12:44:49


DogsBestFriend Tue 19-Jul-11 12:46:33

What Cogito said. I'm not one for worrying about the poor little darlings' psyches and am far more concerned about the maintenance of order and discipline and ensuring that the DC learn. If "Shut up and don't be an idiot" does the trick that's fine by me.

millyrainbow Tue 19-Jul-11 12:47:29

I have been teaching for 10 years and never told a child to shut up or called them an idiot. I don't speak like that to anybody. It is completely unnecessary. YANBU
Teaching students successfully requires respect on both sides, you are never going to get that if you treat them rudely. If a teacher cannot controll without resorting to telling them to shut up maybe they should consider if they are in the right job. There are too many teahers (and other adults in schools) who just don't seem to like the children

Salmotrutta Tue 19-Jul-11 12:48:09

Of course I've said that sort of thing Takver - but that's not calling them idiots or stupid (I honestly was very careful never to call my kids either of those things) and I've never called a pupil stupid/idiotic. I have heard them calling themselves stupid though and I usually say that there are "no stupd people in this classroom"

2shoes Tue 19-Jul-11 12:49:54

maybe being more concerned as to why the teacher had tell them to shut up would be better.
on the idiot one yanbu but it won't kill them

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