A Pedagogical Purpose for the N-Word?

Type: Article
Topics: Ethics, School Administrator Magazine

September 01, 2023

Ethical Educator
Scenario: professor at chalk board with soap in mouth sketch

A superintendent of 15 years teaches education law at a private university. When discussing employment law in his course, which covers discrimination under the Civil Rights Act of 1964, he considers it vital to explain the groundbreaking significance of the legislation by referencing widespread discrimination against all types of minority groups. To highlight the resistance to the law by legislators in the South, he wishes to quote Sen. Strom Thurmond, who uses the N-word in one of his public speeches as a vocal opponent. May he, as a white professor, use the actual word in class for pedagogical purposes or should he adopt a watered-down version?

This Content is Exclusive to Members

AASA Member? Login to Access the Full Resource

Not a Member? Join Now | Learn More About Membership

The Ethical Educator panel consists of 

  • Sheldon H. Berman, author of Implementing Social-Emotional Learning: Insights from School Districts’ Successes and Setbacks.
  • Roark Horn, the Pomerantz endowed professor in educational excellence, University of Northern Iowa;
  • Baron Davis, senior adviser, Digital Promise, Columbia, S.C.; and 
  • Maria G. Ott, Irving R. and Virginia A. Melbo chair in education administration, University of Southern California.

Each month, School Administrator draws on actual circumstances to raise an ethical decision-making dilemma in K-12 education. Our distinguished panelists provide their own resolutions to each dilemma.

Do you have a suggestion for a dilemma to be considered?
Send it to: magazine@aasa.org