There are different teaching methods, classroom set ups, educational theories and safety concerns than there were when I was a student. One of the things I remember from school that no longer exists in most states is the possibility of being beaten with a plank of wood for misbehaving.
|Q: Do you know what the holes are for?|
A: To cut down on wind resistance.
Despite the fact that those paddles were rarely taken down to be used, the sight of them hanging on the wall was enough of a deterrent for most kids to stay out of trouble. We knew someone was in deep doo-doo if the teacher started to reach for the paddle. If the offense was bad enough, the teacher would threaten to get Mr. Scrivner to deliver the punishment. He was known for his paddlings and it wasn't good.
I am not an advocate for bringing paddling back into schools. While I am not against kids getting a good swat when they need one, the liability and potential for misuse is just too much, so I am not really against this practice, I just think it is better to leave it out of the system. I got swats once in 2nd grade and, trust me, I deserved it. I also got swats once in the 7th grade. Once again, I had it coming. However, I can't tell you how many times I got swats in the 4th grade. These were different.
I started the 4th grade with a lovely teacher named Mrs. Scroggins. I still don't know if this was her first teaching job or first job at our school, but we had never seen her before. I went to a rural school and the entire fourth grade was in one classroom. It was a very large class. After a month or so, it was determined that she had more students than she could handle and one-third of us would be moved across the hall into the 3rd grade room. Those students would then be in a split 3rd/4th grade classroom. I was one of them that got moved.
|She had a special teachers' lounge,|
where she dined with other teachers of her kind.
For the most part, it was a regular classroom. The Witch was strict and not nearly as cheery as sweet Mrs. Scroggins, but I wasn't worried. If I kept my head down and did my work, then everything would be fine. It turned out it wasn't that easy.
Now, I hate when whiney kids start complaining that their poor grades or punishment is because "that teacher doesn't like me." While that is possible, it is rarely the case. Bad grades are usually due to a deficiency in the performance of the student. In most cases, if a student got into trouble, it is because he was misbehaving in some way, but something different was going on in this class. I won't even try to make the claim that The Witch didn't like me, because I don't think that was true. I just believe that she had
The trouble started with a comic book assignment. Each week, we constructed a comic book about an alien named Gloo McFoo. I am not positive on the name and scoured Google for pictures, but can't find it. This was 30 years ago. Give me a break. On Monday she gave us 3 or 4 papers with the pages of the comic that we were to color, fill in some of the blanks with our vocabulary words, glue to construction paper and construct a small comic book by Friday. This was not a difficult assignment and was supposed to enhance our reading, vocabulary, spelling and art skills. There was a small problem. I hated Gloo McFoo.
|See! Aliens are usually green.|
The following week, I made sure to color him blue instead of green. I did not want a repeat of the week before. However, when they were returned this time, she said she wanted to see me in the hall. The Witch grabbed the paddle as we stepped out. I didn't know what I had done, but was already shaking, because I knew what was coming.
My heinous crime was that I had failed to trim the edges of the construction paper to match the size of the papers on the inside. I cried that I didn't know I was supposed to. The Wicked Witch gave me three swats.
The worst part was that I hadn't trimmed them the week before either, but the Wicked Witch hadn't said anything. I had corrected the thing that she said was wrong and still got into trouble. Being the wonderful child that I am, I did not tell my parents about this. I didn't realize that what this teacher had done was wrong and I did not want to get into any more trouble at home for being "bad."
The following week, I received swats for not numbering the pages. This time I tried to explain that she had never told me that before. The Ugly Wicked Witch gave me an extra one for arguing. The next week, my swats were for putting the title at the top of the cover page instead of in the center. Once again, it didn't matter to the Ugly Wicked Witch that I had done it that way since the beginning and she had never corrected me.
It wasn't until I got much older that I realized the problem was her and not me. The Ugly Evil Wicked Witch never went to get another teacher to observe the swats. That was school policy to ensure it was done properly. Sometimes, she didn't even take me out to the hall, which was also policy. She did it in the classroom in front of the other kids.
I was relaying this story over Thanksgiving dinner a few years back and my mother exclaimed, "I wish I had known about this." In hindsight, I wish I had said something, but my 9 year old mind did not understand at the time.
Now, I do not want to give the impression that I was scarred for life and horribly traumatized. It should not have happened, but it was just a bad year. I still believe I had a wonderful childhood, she was just a dark shadow that didn't last very long. The Horrible Ugly Evil Wicked Witch has since retired and is no longer working with children. Hopefully, I never learn what nursing home she is in.