Question Detail

Bad Words in the Classroom

Mar 13, 2013 6:23am

When you're teaching a book like Huck Finn, you have to address the N-word. How do you prepare them for it and what would you do should problems arise?

  • English Language Arts
  • 9-12
  • Behavior / New Teachers / Planning


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    • Mar 15, 2013 1:20am

      Linh, I had the same concern approaching To Kill a Mockingbird. Before we read the book, I had students read the Countee Cullen poem "Incident" about a boy's experience being called the N-word. We had a class discussion about the poem during which I asked students to consider why the word affected the speaker so deeply, why the "Baltimorean" would have used that word, who is really to blame for the use of the insult and the young man's prejudice, and why an African American writer would put that word in his poem. Before showing the poem, I let the students know we were going to be reading text with an offensive racial slur and that we needed to discuss it maturely and seriously. It went very smoothly with my freshmen and the word has not been an issue as we've read and discussed the novel together. I think the key is to have a direct and open discussion about it and to see it in context and talk about its literary purpose for being there. I teach in a class that is racially quite diverse.

      • Mar 14, 2013 11:39am

        Hi Linh,
        We actually just produced a video with a teacher leading a marvelous Socratic Seminar about the N-word in Huck Finn. It should be posted in the next few weeks... Stay tuned!


        • Mar 23, 2013 4:01pm

          Hi Linh,
          The Socratic Seminar on the N-word video was just posted. Hope this helps!

          • Mar 20, 2014 10:40pm

            check out this movie

            A young teacher inspires her class of at-risk students to learn tolerance, apply themselves, and pursue education beyond high school.
            Freedom Writers (2007)