Teachable Moment

Today, as my grade 7 students were working in small groups, I heard someone say,”Stop being such a homo. That is so lame and gay.”

I walked over very calmly, sat down and said:

Can we have a very quick but serious conversation? I heard you just say, “Stopping being such a homo. That is so lame and gay.” I just wanted you to know that I would  prefer that we didn’t use that kind of language in our classroom. I don’t think it is very kind to use words like Homo or Gay or even Retard in a derogatory way, do you know what derogatory means? It means to use it in a negative way. To use those words in a way to be put someone down. I don’t think it is okay to use words like Homo or Gay or Retard to put people down. There are most likely people in our class who might be homosexual or know people who are homosexual and if we use it as a put down, then they feel badly about themselves and that doesn’t seem fair. I know from experience because many of my friends who are homosexual have told me that language is powerful and the words we choose affect people in ways we cannot always see. Does that make sense? So please do not use the word Homo or Gay or Retard as a put down in our class again. OK? Thanks.



4 thoughts on “Teachable Moment

  1. avatarTricia Friedman
    Twitter: FriedEnglish101

    I wish more teachers took the time to remind students that being mindful of the community means being mindful of the dialogue we construct each and every day. What are the building blocks we want to build our house with? Blocks that represent the respect and honor we have for our diversity? Or, do we want a poorly built home, tarnished by hate which rots any foundation?

    I recently had a conversation about teachers who put down marginalized groups in their classes. Sometimes hate, or attitudes which belittle are symptomatic of other issues. Unpacking language is an important activity for every school.

  2. avatarTracy Armstrong

    Hi Jabiz,
    It is I, once again. I thought that your post, “teachable moment,” was very powerful. It was definitely one of those things that you don’t have a lesson plan for and when the moment arrives you can only pray that you say the right thing and that it would be accepted in a positive way. I thought you were very professional and honest with your response. I believe that students want someone who will not only stand up for the truth but to tell them the truth as well no matter how sensitive the subject may be. I am curious though as to what the response was for the student after you enlightened him or her. Thanks for not dropping the ball on that one, Jabiz.

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