Pennsylvania psychology professor gives virtual class permission to use N-word in 'pedagogical sense'

Gary Shank was recorded by one of his students while he lectured the class about how it was okay to use the racial slur in a pedagogical sense

                            Pennsylvania psychology professor gives virtual class permission to use N-word in 'pedagogical sense'
(Getty Images)

A video of professor Gary Shank teaching an educational psychology class online was shared by his student on Twitter on Friday, September 11, in which the professor repeated uses the N-word, a racial slur. In the video, he asked his students, "What’s the one word about race that we’re not allowed to use?" and added, "I’ll give you a hint, it starts with 'n'."

In the 45-second video, he is also heard saying, "It’s even hard to say. I’ll tell you the word…" and proceeded to say the word. He also said that usage of the word in his class was fine because they are using it "in a pedagogical sense".

The lecture was given along with a presentation titled 'Race (from a cultural sense)' and the conclusion that seemed to be drawn from the class at the end of the presentation was that "Based on perceived physical differences, values assigned to race are cultural, not physical."

This man also went on to explain how the usage of the word is very common and recalled how Brazilian nuts were referred to as N-word "toes" when he was a child. He also recalled various other instances where the N-word would be used including how N-word "rich" was a term that was commonly used when someone had a little extra money which he or she "was spending it extravagantly".

After the video was shared on the social networking site, the professor's language and his choice to refer to the racial slur as lightly as he did, received backlash from users resulting in him being placed on paid leave. Gretchen Generett, the Dean of the School of Education at the private Catholic university, claimed that the professor's language was "troubling and disturbing” and also informed that Shank has been placed on paid leave pending an investigation. 


She told CBS News that the course that was thought by Shank would now be taken over by a new professor and his profile has also been removed from the university's official website. The Dean claimed that thank you letters to students who attended Shank's class were written. In the aftermath of the video going viral, Shank in the next class profusely apologized to his students and also sent an email to them which was acquired by the Student Newspaper The Duquesne Duke. 

In the mail, he wrote, "I used a term that I now realize was deeply troubling to the class. It was not my intent to do so, but I must take responsibility for the impact of my words and teaching," and further added, "As a consequence, I am offering each and every one of you my most sincere apology and my guarantee that I will never cross this line again in our class.”

While a huge section of the Internet and Shank's students did not appreciate Shank's lesson about the N-word, sophomore student Kaytlin Black told the newspaper that her "heart seriously goes out to him right now." She stated, "I just wish for two seconds we could look at both sides and acknowledge he's human. He wasn’t saying the things he did to hurt anyone or target anyone. He took a point he was trying to make just way too far."

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