The lights are flashing, the music is thumping, they have let their hair down, and their spirits are high. Sure, there are the odd swear words scattered among the lyrics but as no one is really listening to them, it doesn’t matter. Or does it?
From the beginning of human existence, words and music have been combined to uplift, educate and entertain. Songs with lyrics are powerful tools used to bind together people with a common outlook or to create a common purpose. National anthems, football teams theme songs, particular hymns—each of these defines a group as a unique entity. A school song unites the group—teachers and students—from within, but a school’s identity is also bound up with its public image. One of the reasons why curse words are never taught (besides the fact that they do not need to be!) is because they portray a negative public impression.
Education has many responsibilities, one of which is to expand our minds. As the original meaning of most curse words have been lost or is used out of context, to utter them shows a paucity of vocabulary and imagination. Swear words diminish one’s ability to communicate whilst momentarily relieving an outburst of anger. What place do they have in a song used at a dance, which by definition should be a time of enjoyment?
Another purpose of education is to alert us to the culture we live in and help to shape. Music has the power to elevate. Music and lyrics together can express what is deepest in the human heart that mere words cannot do. When we stop listening to music, it becomes merely aural wallpaper; when we stop hearing the words, we insulate ourselves from our fellow human beings and are in danger of emasculating a vital part of our culture.
In a way schools are guardians of that culture, showing us how to aspire to excellence and guiding us to inspire others. To allow a few swear words at a school dance to slip through people’s consciousness is to cease to care about them.